JetBlue Gets Twitter

Recent discussions have suggested that perhaps brands' quick responsiveness to complaints in social media settings, especially Twitter, might be training consumers to voice complaints even more. I admit, when I first heard this, I had to think about it, because it seemed a reasonable hypothesis. However, the truth is that as people become more comfortable with using tools like Twitter to broadcast, or "graphcast" (broadcast to their social graphing), the conversations in social media channels will more and more resemble how people talk to each other in everyday life. And, unfortunately for marketers, people are more likely to talk about a bad experience than they are to talk about a good one.

I recently had a bad experience with JetBlue's rewards program. The first thing I did was call JetBlue's customer service, where, after going through a phone automated system, I was put on hold to wait for a customer service rep. While on hold, I submitted my problem through JetBlue's online form. Still on hold, I turned to Twitter. I sent a tweet out with my issue, and before I got through to a customer service rep on the phone, I had two responses. One was  from @JetBlue; the other was from a Twitter connection who didn't even work for JetBlue, suggesting that I send an note to @MatrySG, JetBlue's digital-savvy senior vice president of marketing.



Still on hold with customer service, I was already discussing my issue with @JetBlue and giving someone the details of my situation. When I finally got through to phone customer service, I already knew what the issue was, and the phone rep wasn't able to help me. In the end @JetBlue was actually able to help me resolve the issue and turn a very negative situation into a very positive experience. Even if they hadn't been able to help me (because the situation was totally my fault in the end, for not fully reading the rewards policy when I first signed up), the detail and speed with which they were able to address my problem would have made a huge difference to my perception of how JetBlue values me as a consumer. The best part, is I was able to go about my Sunday watching the World Cup in Manhattan's East Village with friends, while getting updates from @JetBlueover Twitter DM and having a conversation with Jet's Blue's Marty -- who was poolside himself. :-)

I know I'm not a typical Twitter user, but I'm hardly the most frequent tweeter, either.  I doubt that this experience makes me any more likely to complain in the future. If a situation is frustrating enough to vent about on Twitter, I would have probably done it anyway, because Twitter is just a natural extension of how I communicate. There's also an argument that it's actually better for brands to have their customers vent on social media platforms, because they can capture that data, and try to address individual situations. If I hadn't vented on Twitter, I would have been just a lost customer influencing peers negatively without JetBlue ever knowing about it.

I've checked out my Twitter stream, and the truth is that I have tweeted as much about positive brand experiences as I have about negative ones. One thing marketers could consider if they are concerned with rewarding negative behavior, is to balance things out by rewarding positive behavior. That doesn't have to mean free stuff (although it could), but it could be as simple as just acknowledging the positive with the same effort as the negative. I noticed that most of my positive tweets disappeared into the ether and were never reacted to.

Any experience in talking to brands in social media? Thoughts? Drop me a tweet  at, and also leave a comment on the Spin Board!

P.S.: One day later I got an email from JetBlue saying they couldn't help. Thank goodness for the @JetBlue Twitter team. :-)

9 comments about "JetBlue Gets Twitter".
Check to receive email when comments are posted.
  1. Marva Marrow from Singular Communications, June 22, 2010 at 12:31 p.m.

    I think this is a perfect example of how a normal person might resolve a frustrating customer service issue. A situation like this can easily make or break the relations with a customer - meaning chipping away or adding to the bottom line. I personally would have never thought of using Twitter, but I guess I need to get into that mindset, along with the millions of others who do (I do have a Twitter account and such, but don't seem to use it much). Thanks for posting this story!

  2. Nicole Shore from Zero to Sixty Communications, June 22, 2010 at 12:35 p.m.

    I'm wondering at what point companies will decide to take the long overdue action of overhauling their customer service practices? Thank goodness for social media's making it possible to overcome such roadblocks. But the real issue is that companies have strayed from good customer service and now senior staff with other responsibilities are handling tasks that entire existing departments were created for.

  3. Nicole Shore from Zero to Sixty Communications, June 22, 2010 at 12:39 p.m.

    I should also mention that after a recent negative experience with Allstate insurance that was no small oversight, I used Twitter to reach out to other customers in hopes of elevating the issue to staff more able to address it. (Customer service supervisors had said there was nothing they could do about it.) Sure enough I was contacted by a staffer who referred my issue to the Chairman's office. It was great to be able to pass the information to the top with such greater ease than 5 years ago, but it used to be that simple using just a phone and/or an address. (And the Chairman's office was still unable to do anything about the oversight either. So alas, it was never resolved.)

  4. Corey Kronengold from NYIAX, June 22, 2010 at 2:14 p.m.

    I can't help but wonder if the efficiency of your customer service experience over Twitter isn't more of a function of how backed up that communications channel is.

    I'd guess that the majority of an airlines customer service complaints come through the phone. A small percentage might submit the web form. How many people with a Jet Blue complaint are actually on Twitter? And how many at JetBlue are responsible for checking the Twitter account?

    I'm guessing that the ratio of complainers to customer service people on Twitter is far better for the complainer than the ratio on the phone.

    Just my $0.01

  5. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, June 22, 2010 at 3:07 p.m.

    You would also be surprised how fast things turn around with a direct hand written letter to a VP of PR/CR/Mktg/Finance. Perhaps not as fast as a twit (birds tweet, people are twits), but a resolution comes about better than a person on the phone or a customer rep via email who usually does not have authority to say yes if when they say they can say no or yes.

  6. Thomas Trumble from Jack Morton Worldwide, June 22, 2010 at 3:30 p.m.

    Flip this around and it's clear that Jet Blue's customer service is broken. You used the primary channel for customer support, were put on hold for long enough that you were able to get in touch with 2 other contacts and diagnose the issue (half an hour at the least?) and then they cannot help.

    The majority of Jet Blue's customer will not be contacting them via social media it will be over the phone and clearly Jet Blue is not delivering quality service there. It's great that social media can serve to relieve pressure on customer service, but they need to solve their customer service issue and deliver a full brand experience at every touch point.

  7. Mark Langan from Endless Pools, June 23, 2010 at 8:52 a.m.

    If you use Twitter or Facebook to voice your concern it certainly has more visibility - both within a company and to its prospective customers. At this stage of social media, companies are more motivated to handle these customers in a timely manner, ultimately with the goal of getting concerns settled in an amicable way. This pleases the customer who posted their concern and prospective customers who see that the company is able to deal with issues in a positive way.

    I recently had the same type of situation with my GE Stove. My wife sent an email to CS, with no response. I suggested she post to Facebook. We had a response within a very short space of time and GE extended the warranty on the stove to fix the part.

  8. Sam Gallinelli, June 24, 2010 at 10:51 a.m.

    Using social media can be super efficient when comparing it to some of the more traditional customer service channels. Just this past week I posted a comment to my gym's Facebook page mentioning a long standing broken shower in the ladies locker room that was slowing the already existent shower line in the morning. Many women were complaining about it, and I kind of got sick of hearing it so I went to the gym's Facebook page and I made a comment about it. Now keep in mind these women had written letters and made verbal complaints, but miraculously the day after my post the shower was fixed.
    My CEO also had a recent Twitter customer service experience with British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and City Jet when he ran into some flight issues revolving around Iceland’s Eyjafjallajökull volcano eruption. Each airline reacted in different ways, (Click here for the full story,
    However, I am going to be the devil’s advocate here and say while I think that using Twitter to jump the customer service queue can certainly be effective, I question just how long social media as a customer service channel will be considered a quicker, better solution for customers. It is never long before the masses pick up on something that can make life easier. What happens when everybody realizes that using social media to resolve issues is more yielding than other methods? Everybody starts using it, crowding social media platforms and therefore slowing down that channel much like most call centers are today. So my advice would be to take advantage of social media as a customer service channel now while you still can. For our take on when it is ok to jump the customer service queue with social media check out this post,

  9. Michael Odza from Odza Consults/Social Media Lift, June 27, 2010 at 10:14 p.m.

    I belatedly agree with Sam to this point: that Twitter is an underloaded channel, but as other writers remind us, what distinguishes it from the traditional customer service channels is (in addition to brevity), it is public. That's why companies will continue to respond better to social media than to 1-to-1 communication. My mother proved this to me in the old-fashioned way by allowing herself to cry --loudly and pitiably-- in a store when they wouldn't accept her return -- attracting the attention of people from aisles away. The store quickly found a way to do what they had just said was impossible.

Next story loading loading..