Should airlines be answering tweets 24/7?

A recent story in the BBC demonstrates that customers who are upset about service might not just tweet or blog a complaint and then hope that the complaint is noticed. It’s possible to use social media platforms to create an immediate billboard featuring the complaint.

The case documented by the BBC involves a customer who was not happy about the way British Airways (BA) was handling a lost baggage complaint. Instead of just tweeting his anger, businessman Hasan Syed paid Twitter for a promoted tweet that said: “Don’t fly @BritishAirways. Their customer service is horrendous.”

This direct attack by using a promoted tweet needs cash, but Shashank Nigam, chief executive of aviation consultancy SimpliFlying, estimates that this criticism of British Airways would have cost less than $1,000 yet was noticed all over the world. That’s a lot faster and cheaper than paying for a billboard next to the airport – and a lot more effective.

Nigam explained to the BBC: “Airlines are going to have to start having 24/7 customer services and maybe they need to train up call centre reps to respond to messages on Facebook and Twitter.”

Anyone following the Teleperformance blog will know that we have been talking about this for the past couple of years. It actually made BA look worse when they tweeted a response saying that their Twitter account was ‘closed’ and only open for business between 9am to 5pm.

It’s hard enough for anyone in customer service to tell customers today that they will not answer a phone call after 5pm, but customers using social tools such as Twitter don’t consider at all that these methods of communication depend on office hours. A brand doesn’t need to have a complete answer tweeted back to the customer within two minutes, but to send a tweet suggesting that the customer comes back tomorrow during office hours sends a very confusing message about whether customer queries are actually being supported on social networks.

Not everyone can afford to copy Mr Syed, but it’s a danger for many brands that customers would be willing to pay to ensure the media notices their complaint. But the answer is simple. Answer all customers in a timely way across all possible channels – you can no longer dictate how and when the customer can reach out to your brand.

British Airways


Photo by Bri licensed under Creative Commons

This entry was posted in Contact Centres, Current Affairs, Customer Service, Social Media and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Should airlines be answering tweets 24/7?

  1. Mohan says:

    Wish I had realized this a few years ago, when my qeuries to Jet Airways went unanswered

  2. Eptica says:

    If you are a 24×7 business like BA, you simply can’t afford not to be available round the clock, particularly when you are operating globally. Some brands are making great strides in social customer service (see this recent Eptica blog post This just raises the customer expectation bar higher for everyone, so every company needs to provide the multichannel service its customers demand.

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