I hate when it happens to me, but I also love to learn by real world examples and experience. Here is a lesson in the failure of how to use of social media.
I am getting married in August and we booked a bus a couple months ago with US Coachways to transport guests between the hotel and the venue. US Coachways is a national company in business for over 40 years. Well today, two months before the wedding, they called to say they are canceling the reservation as they can’t locate a bus for that day. This is after we called them months ago to see if they could provide a bus, which they said yes and then completed their reservation form with all the details.
I immediately thought of this classic Seinfeld episode:
After they cancelled the reservation and made no offer or attempt to help I jumped on Twitter and followed US Coachways and then tweeted about their failure. By the way no personal reply as of yet. But, I did get a direct message from them…
“Thanks for the follow! Gonna love connecting with you. Pls visit uscoachways.com for info on bus and car rental. cheers! ”
You are gonna love connecting with me? Awesome! How about actually replying to the three tweets I made about the problem. See, I don’t think you are really gonna love connecting with me. It was clearly a automated direct message reply, they would have never sent that reply if they had actually read my tweet.
On Facebook I left them a negative Recommendation, which goes along with a few other negative Recommendations, to which they have also not replied.
The impression I get is US Coachways has their head stuck in the sand and acting like none of the negative conversation is happening. Your fans and customers are out there talking about you, good and bad. You HAVE to be part of the conversation. Ignoring it does not make it go away, it actually makes it worse.
If you would like read about a experience I had that was the direct opposite, read about how the winery Michel-Schlumberger used social media to discover and win a new customer.
Lessons you can learn?
1. Be monitoring your brand online live, daily. You need to respond to complaints quickly. No response is as bad as the initial act itself. Why are you setting yourself up for social communication if you only ignore it when it happens? You need to be prepared to take the bad with the good.
2. Be careful with automated messaging. It can be helpful, but if you don’t monitor your own messaging you will send out a message similar to the above direct message in a situation where it does not apply.
US Coachways gets a F for the lack of monitoring their brand online, for not communicating with their customer and for sending a automated direct message that was inappropriate for the customer.