The world of social media is all fun and banter for the most of us, but it gives some customer facing companies a real opportunity to shine. I have been talking to you all via Twitter @LiveFromALounge for over 5 years, and in the course of this time, I’ve seen many a brands ramping up their social media teams to be able to serve clients better.
Some of the most adored companies I’ve had interactions with on Twitter include @americanair, @DeltaAssist, @spgbuzz and @HyattConcierge. Look, I am a guy who needs a quick response, does not want to be on the phone for long, and does not also want to write long emails to get the desired response. Twitter is more like a messaging app for hospitality & travel companies now, and they give you a customer delight moment by instantly solving your problems ever so often.
Closer home, one of the social media teams I adore is the one manning @jetairways. I think I remember long ago Jet Airways used to do social media interactions via a social media agency. Jet Airways has also collaborated with Twitter to work out innovative products such as #JetInstant which give you information about fares and flight timings on Twitter. Jet Airways took it back in house, and now they have a team manning the account, taking action where they can help it.
Last night was one such moment where I could have really really done with all the help I got from them. I spent the long weekend in Bangkok along with Shipra, and we were supposed to be on the flight back to Mumbai last night. We were staying at the Grand Hyatt Erawan, which is central in the city, and at that hour, Google Maps showed us 50 minutes to the airport using the tolled roads. Not just that, Uber and Grab Taxi showed the same thing, and the hotel concierge concurred as well.
So we set out to get ourselves a car at about 6:15 PM, hoping to arrive at the airport at the most by 7:15 PM. We could have also taken the train, but we were travelling with check-in bags and did not want to lug them around. Here is however how our Uber trip came out to be. We ran into some seriously rough traffic along the way which added 40-50 minutes to our original estimate.
Like you can see, I had a flight to catch at 08:55 PM and this was going to be a close call, I was almost going to miss the flight. There was no way I knew what time I was arriving to be able to make a firm plan. Also, there was no number to call in Bangkok for me. So, jittery, I sent their Twitter team a message, asking them to get someone to meet us at the airport so that we could run to catch the flight. Here is the messaging we exchanged. Excuse the spelling mistakes!
And boy, they did come through all guns blazing. I have to admit I may sound like a fanboy right now, but this was exceptional handling and made me thank my stars for choosing the right airline to have turned by business to. Somewhere in my earshot, I did have another person who may have been stuck in similar traffic but was on the Air India flight back to India. He was not getting any help from the ground staff there.
Jet Airways’ Social Media team clearly picked up the phone and called the guys in Bangkok, who could then lay out an alternate plan to make sure we got on the flight. We were already checked-in, and that should have helped since they already had all our documents uploaded to the ticket.
As we arrived, we did not see any Jet Airways’ branding in the row which was being used for checking-in Jet Airways passengers. I almost had my heart stop when I realized boarding had closed and we were going around in circles trying to find someone to help us. Then I got the message on Twitter asking me to go to a particular counter.
Jet Airways had one person manning the counter waiting for us to arrive, even as the next flight’s ground handler on the counter was all set to take over the counter. He quickly weighed our bags, issued us priority immigration passes, and he even had the time to apologize that we could not use the lounge since we were so late.
Once he tagged our bags, we took them to the oversized baggage counter, where they could be immediately screened and on the other end taken directly to the flight, rather than go through the longer online baggage screening process. We were sent to the Priority Immigration counters, where we went through in a jiffy.
On the other side, the same agent who had checked us in, was waiting and he checked on our bags, relayed a couple of messages on the walky and started walking with us to the gate. In the meanwhile, the station manager, called to check if everything was okay and we relayed the latest position to him. Soon enough, we were at the gate, and in our seats by 8:35 pm.
Of course I can’t thank everyone at Jet Airways enough who helped us make the flight including the ground team at Bangkok and our first responders at Jet Airways Social Media team. Clearly enough to me, this was one instance when the airline used social media effectively, but there have been countless others where they’ve helped me do minor maintenance or sometimes help me get small irritants out of the way related to the airlines. Here is hoping they keep up their superb job!
Have you had any such experiences with a travel service provider where they managed to fix a situation for you which you would have been left with in a worse situation otherwise?