Southwest Airlines Using Social Media to Improve Customer Service?

It has been quite clear for a while now that social media is an effective tool for giving your audience the gold standard of customer service.  Many businesses feel that delving into the social media world is risky.  One major reason I’ve heard from some of my clients is the big “what if someone were to complain on your Facebook page or write something nasty on Twitter?”

Well, what if?  What DO you do?  Erase it?  Not the best idea considering that despite the few minutes it was on the worldwide web, google could have indexed it.  Someone saw it.  You can’t pretend it didn’t happen.  So the best possible thing to do is exactly what Southwest Airlines did a few days ago when Green Day band member was removed from a flight for not hiking his pants up and then tweeted about it: they re-tweeted him, acknowledged his displeasure at the situation, and promised to correct it.  Then, (gasp) they went and put him on the next flight and I am sure apologized.

Rather than ignore the complaining tweet, they harnessed this as an opportunity to show their customers (and the rest of the world) that they did indeed pay attention to what their customers wanted, and used the power of social media to put forth the highest standard of customer service.

Inevitably any business is subject to complaints.   Why try to hide it when anyone knows that you can never please EVERYONE?  The best possible thing to do 100% of the time is be totally transparent, which shows your honesty as a business person, your credibility, and that you will do whatever you can to keep your customers happy or correct mistakes that will inevitably happen.

How have you used social media as a useful customer service tool for your customers?  How have you approached a grievance posted on your social media from an unhappy customer?  And how have you turned it around to make it into a win/win situation for you and for your customer?