Complaining while traveling used to involve standing around and muttering to yourself, picking up the phone, standing in line to see a supervisor or writing a letter … now travelers can stand in place whining to themselves while simultaneously kvetching on Twitter and Facebook.
If you plan to complain through social media channels, be prepared to complain properly so your complaint is taken seriously and not brushed off. Like everything else in life, your first impression is what sets the tone for your interaction with an airline, airport, hotel or rental car company through their social media channels.
When a problem arises and you turn to social media to seek assistance, which tends to be a far more effective tactic than complaining, try and determine where the company you are seeking to connect with is most active … and most frequently directly engages customers.
For many travel companies Twitter is the social media engagement platform of choice, but some others are more active on Facebook. If you want a response, take a look and see where you’re likely to get a reply.
If you engage a company on Twitter make sure you send your Tweet to them directly, using their Twitter name, rather than just complaining about them into open space.
If you expect a reply, follow the company so they can send you a direct message as a reply. Contacting a company that is likely to ask you information, such as a reservations code, a phone number or other private information requires that you make yourself available to them to be able to answer you in an appropriate manner.
Once you are ready to write your message to the company you have in your crosshairs, be sure to include all the relevant information in your Tweet or Facebook message, such as date of occurrence, location or flight number, etc. Make your situation succinct, especially on Twitter. A single message is easier to follow than stream of rambling messages that may be intertwined with other messages.
Be aware that not all companies that have a social media presence, even a consistent social media presence, may use these channels as a direct customer engagement tool. Some companies may produce regular social media content, but are not set up to handle direct customer resolution issues. After you send the company a message on Facebook or Twitter, give them a chance to reply, especially if you are in touch after normal business hours for their headquarters.
Follow up in an hour or two, and for immediate service if you don’t hear back in a reasonable amount of time … pick up the phone.
Effectively calling on a company to help you in a very public manner can quickly get you the assistance you need, but blatantly attacking a company as many do, especially when no real problem exists, is likely to get you a phony smile while a door is being slammed in your face.