I am usually not a fan of writing how different brands “fail” on social media. Too often these fails are actually quite trivial and more driven by the urge of “social media experts” to nitpick on every thing. However sometimes you just stumble on things which are quite hard to believe that are still happening in 2013.
Today I noticed there was discussion from Lufthansa wall spreading in Facebook. I went to check it out. You can read the whole correspondence from here, but if post will be deleted, you can also see the highlights below:
Because this is all public correspondence from Lufthansa wall (part of the #fail-part), I have not censored any names or such because it is public post.
The start after the first post was a guidebook social media example answer from the company with no customer service capabilities within social media team:
Good answer. Now Lufthansa would just need to make the final reply and everything would be ok.
Further assurances are made that thing is progressed further, but nothing happens for a week:
During this part of the discussion the social media team actually shows that they only work as messengers within the company with no real access to customer service personnel. It also seems that customer service personnel does not really care what comes from social media team either. It also showcases well how the airline companies (not only Lufthansa) are making the access to customer service increasingly difficult. You cannot call anyone and the mails are not answered (or your mails are bounced back). In Facebook you get answered, but unfortunately the answers are not any good. And of course nothing happens on the customer service front:
After this something totally peculiar happens: Lufthansa Facebook team goes totally quiet. Maybe they counted that the situation will eventually die down. But as you can notice from this post, the discussion did not die down. It actually just got more vivid. People started to share this post in social media and now it has garnered almost 100 likes and 72 comments. The post has not been taken down (not that it would probably help in this situation) or not addressed in any way. If you decide to ignore someone in social media, you should make that decision first and not halfway through.
This discussion gives us three lessons:
1. You cannot have the cake and eat it too.
It is impossible to just get the “good” side of the social media such as likes and positive comments. Your Facebook page is also customer service channel whether you have customer service working in your social media team or not. This correspondence shows that the company treats social media as a nice sugarcoating and not really a part of the business. You have to also be accountable for your answers. If you say you are getting back, you really should get back. You do not really need social media expert to tell this. It is just common courtesy and common sense.
2. Handle the social media complaints first
All the customers are not equal. You should treat those better who pay more (your best customers) and you should also treat those first who can cause you the biggest damage (damage prevention). This post has been escalating for three weeks and I do not doubt that it will escalate further. How difficult it would just to get back to the guy?
3. If you answer the questions in Facebook, follow through
It is of course respectable to have open unsolicited discussion on your Facebook page. In this case, the situation just looks bad and shows more that you do not care about customers. Also although the discussion does not show in your FB front-page it does not mean that it is forgotten. Currently the whole discussion sends the message that anyone in the organization does not really care.
Airline industry is one of the most complained industries in the world and I have had my fair share of challenges with them. Nothing new under the sun in many ways you could say. This situation could have been saved easily on many occasions during this discussion (not to mention the thing has been boiling for three months before). The situation can of course be saved, but it is much harder now.
I am looking forward to how Lufthansa will respond. At least they have been pondering for the right comment for 1,5 weeks.
EDIT (Apparently now the situation has been sorted out):