When An Airline Proves Twitter Support Is Officially Worthless

Filed Under: United

Last December I wrote about how Twitter support can be very useful when dealing with incompetent phone agents at airlines. Well, it seems like that statement is going down the drain faster than expected. Ben recently wrote about his experience with deteriorating customer service over Twitter. Service over social media is becoming standard procedure for millennials. That puts more pressure on airline social media support teams, and gives the agents less time per customer.

The problem is that most awards that measure airline performance on social media solely look at response time. That is the worst possible metric with which to rate an airline social media team. They can write anything in response, as long as it comes as fast as possible.

So, I was scrolling through Twitter the other day and came across this amusing interaction:

Lufthansa responded as they should:

Lufthansa tweet

But it’s clear United wanted a fast response more than anything, given the agent didn’t even read the tweet properly:

Oops… better luck next time United! Perhaps it’s time to start surveying customers to actually measure how helpful the social media support teams are?

  1. Well to be fair, UA does get part of the revenue from transatlantic LH flights… hmmm..

    This is hilarious though.

  2. I think it is just obvious that UA doesn’t care about customer perception at this point. They aren’t trying to hide it at all.

  3. That explains! I had such a terrible experience with Emirates and also used Twitter and FB for getting my issue sorted. I got the same reply all over when ever I followed up “our teams are looking into this”. It took them 1 month to actually come back with a proper reply… very sad development

  4. Here’s my Twitter experience with United. UA: “An associate will be with you shortly — how can we help?” Me: “[clearly stated question]” That was all… I never got a response. This was two weeks ago.

  5. Delta’s twitter support is quite good in my experience. I was surprised that they could take care account changes without needing to call.

  6. It’s really a shame. Twitter used to be a way to get a top customer service team to look into an issue. Now it’s basically a bot that measures customer service as a short response time.

  7. lol you misunderstand:
    United meant “us” as in “StarAlliance” – when one of them makes a passenger happy, they all win…

  8. The same can be said about @KLM on twitter. They put some nice ads out there and seems to be really engaged in social media. But last time I had a problem (flight cancelled midair), they were only capable to be courteous and nothing else. I did like Ben always said, I went ahead and started looking for vacant spaces while fliying back to the departure airport. First in others Skyteam companies (AF/KLM/Alitalia/AirEuropa) then in other alliances. I did came with lots of choices and I did presented to them. The answer I got was: “Oh nice! But just wait”.
    So I decided to call the KLM customer service in Netherlands. Twice. Both said that I should wait. By the time the customer service opened all flights were booked…

    TAP is the same.
    I really do think that the american companies offer the best customer servicou through social media.

  9. While not a full blown survey, I did receive a follow-up tweet from @United after contacting them in real time during a flight I was on.

    Their tweet to me was: Please take a moment to share your feedback about your recent experience with us.

    I don’t know if I would have gone through a bot to gather my feedback or it would have just been another DM exchange but at least they asked. This was in mid-April.

  10. I’ve had great twitter service from WestJet, indifferent from Air Canada, and terrible from Delta. Similar results in person.

  11. Clueless as to what “help” this comment required from United or even what an appropriate response would be. What response were you expecting?

  12. SAS is worse. When I asked if *A Gold customers from other carriers get a free checked bag in basic economy, they told me to ask A3 as they can only answer questions about their own program (I later found the answer on their website). Later asked them about missing Eurobonus points, their answer: “Call customer service.”
    And then finally I told them about a bug in their app (mobile boarding pass doesn’t open fast track for *A Gold customers, even though it says “fast track”) – no response. When I reminded them of my tweet a couple days later, they told me to “file a problem report online,” pointing me to their general contacts page (not even specific for app problems). Using Google, I then found the correct contact email address. They’re an absolute joke.

  13. IMO – True speed get the response out there, do not take the time to read what is written. Or the person may have thought no one else would notice if they played it down, the person writing the response may have thought everyone out was so busy they would not notice and that if they respond to what was really written it would be picked up instead read right over like people really do.
    When it come to the airlines anymore I say the fruit does fall far from the tree.

  14. They don’t manually answer all these tweets – they use an algorithm to detect sentiment from the text in the tweet depending on defined libraries of words, phrases, idioms – “Enjoyed outstanding service” would trigger an auto response that would thank that customer for the kind words. If the tweet has a question, or asks for United to followup with a particular task (perhaps for a customer service issue) then the tweet is pushed aside and manually handled.

  15. I feel that Twitter can be hit or miss. Sometimes it is amazing and allows you to handle problems immediately. Other times, you can’t even get a response.

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