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 www.twitter.com/joemarchese, 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. :-)