Five Social Media Takeaways from @Delta

By September 9, 2016 October 27th, 2016 News & Viewpoints
Fire trucks outside Delta plane at DCA.

The first sign of trouble as our plane touched down at D.C.’s National Airport was the hard and loud landing, immediately followed by the plane straining to halt as the pilot aggressively pumped the brakes. While that got our attention, what came next underscored that despite our stop, we were not yet in the clear.

Our pilot announced calmly that one of the brakes was “over heating” and he requested the airport firefighters come check it out before we taxi to the gate. There we sat as fire trucks and an ambulance rolled up with lights flashing. Firefighters in full gear swarmed under the belly of the plane and out of our sight.

As we wondered how this was going to play out (everyone remained attentive yet calm, as we were at least on the ground and nobody was running hoses out to the plane), I tweeted out a picture of a firetruck outside the window and tagged @Delta. In less than five minutes Delta tweeted back to me, suggesting I direct message them and share more details; the tweet was signed with initials. Sometime later, the captain announced we were approved to move to the gate, but would be escorted. The firetrucks, ambulance and firefighters on foot all moved with the plane as we taxied to the gate. After an extended delay at the gate, the door to the jet bridge finally opened and out into the night we all went.

I tweeted back to Delta to say we were off the plane and immediately got a tweet back saying, “I’m glad to hear that everything was resolved. Have a great evening. 🙂 *AB.” After it became clear our checked bags were delayed onboard as they continued to address the brake situation, I tweeted back at Delta saying everyone was standing around waiting, but there was no announcement about our bag status. Delta tweeted right back with, “Ugh. Pls reach out to an airport representative for immediate assistance. *AB.”  A few minutes later they made an announcement with an apology for the delay, and then the bags arrived. After I let Delta’s social media representative know all was resolved, he or she replied back, “Oh, great. Click here for our Bags On Time Guarantee: {hyperlink provided} *AB.”Tweet timeline with @Delta

Five Takeaways:

5)  Kudos to Delta for being on top of their social media channels and being responsive in real-time.

4)  Delta’s response was smart, as they tried to get me to DM them, which would have taken our conversation out of public view (the right thing to do from their perspective given the negative situation).

3)  The friendly tone made them seem less “corporate” and inclusion of his/her initials underscored a personal touch with accountability.

2)  Preemptively sending me the link to on time baggage guarantee was a tangible step to offer recourse if the bags were delayed beyond a reasonable time (and the announced apology in baggage claim was appropriate, too).

1)  Delta gets that when things go wrong, sometimes the customer just wants to know he or she is being heard.

For a little more context, we were jinxed from the start. Outbound was delayed in Detroit for two hours due to weather (after we boarded, causing us to deplane and then re-board later). Once we made it to D.C., the brake incident arose, and then the bags delayed us even longer. While I could be mad at Delta (and some of my fellow passengers clearly were), I chalk it up to “stuff happens” and thankfully we were all safe. Delta took some of the sting out of the situation simply by responding and listening. A good lesson for anyone working in customer relations or client service: a little communication goes a long way.

John F. Fitzpatrick co-manages Stratacomm and leads the firm’s transportation practice group.