Published on May 3, 2016
Awoken at 4am by my alarm clock – up and ready to depart to Thailand for a well-deserved break with the family.
Fast forward 16 hours, we arrive at Phuket airport to find that some of our luggage has been lost in transit – to make matters worse, I have my suitcase but my wife and son’s clothes as well as some vital medication have not arrived.
After catching two flights, enduring sleep deprivation and stepping into 35 degrees Celsius – my patience level is at an all-time low!
A fruitless and desperate search of numerous luggage conveyor belts reveals more frustration. I trudge off to the lost luggage helpdesk where I’m greeted by a cheerful member of staff, “Don’t worry Sir – we will find your case and return it in no time,” he assures me.
Now forgive me for my apathy but in my tired and frankly irritable state, I don’t share his optimism.
So, what to do? Well let’s just say a little birdie whispered in my ear and before I know it, my fingers are frantically tapping away on my mobile phone and tweeting about my experience to the one company that can resolve all this – the airline!
Within seconds we have a response: “That’s unfortunate sir DM (direct message) your flight details and we will look into it.” But this response is more or less the same as I had from the lost luggage helpdesk official, I hear you say – and you are right, but somehow I feel more assured by this response.
It’s as if making this a public matter rather than a private issue we feel that something will be done. Social media means that companies can be held to account like never before. My go to position when I’m frustrated by an organisation’s response in person is to publicly ridicule them on social media, essentially forcing them into action.
I imagine I’m not alone, thousands of issues are resolved in this manner. A family member tells me that in her company, issues highlighted on social media get more priority than those that are handled by customer service staff internally.
It’s now more incumbent on organisations to be seen to be doing the right thing, acting promptly to resolve issues and ensuring their customers are happy with the resolution. The company I was dealing with – Emirates – were excellent at communicating every step of the way (via twitter): where our suitcase was; what flight it was going to be on and when it should reach our hotel.
It’s the same when responding to the media as a crisis looms. A prompt statement or interview telling us what you’re doing about the problem, how you will resolve it and what, I as a viewer, reader, listener need to do – is vital in controlling or limiting the damage. A single tweet can potentially destroy the good reputation of your company or it can enhance it – I’m pleased to say that Emirates were as good as their word (tweet) and were able to allay my fears – a job well done!
I understand that Emirates have vast resources and not every company can compete with that – but the overriding message still stands, act promptly and keep us informed because if we can’t see what you’re doing we’ll assume you’re doing nothing.
As promised – the missing suitcase was delivered to our hotel room at 6pm the following evening and the stress was soon forgotten.