A potential new trend called the promoted tweet, which is essentially a paid-for tweet, has important implications for airlines and customer service.
The son of a couple who bought business-class tickets with British Airways and whose luggage went astray became frustrated after two days passed without a response from the airline. The son, Hasan Syed, decided to take up his parents’ cause by purchasing a promoted tweet that reads: "Don't fly @BritishAirways. Their customer service is horrendous."
Promoted tweets instantly reach a wider audience and can be targeted, just like an advertisement campaign; Syed’s tweet targeted New York and UK markets and was picked up by the blog Mashable. It rapidly collected 25,000 impressions even before Mashable picked it up.
The story and some interesting comments on what this could mean for airlines is covered by Shashank Nigam in his blog, SimpliFlying.
“Airlines today need to recognise that their detractors also have the same tools, and are more agile too!” Nigam notes. “The future of customer service online might be poised to become rather more tricky if this becomes a trend. Airlines need to get their crisis communication plans in place at the earliest!”
The kicker here is that the couple who lost their luggage did not fly on BA aircraft, but with codeshare/alliance partners. That does not matter to the customer, of course. They will complain to the organization that took their money; and now, it appears, they will also target that airline with a promoted tweet if customer service does not respond quickly enough.