UPDATED: @DeltaAssist Proves its Bark is Bigger than its Bite

airport-285592_640“61 hours, 3 canceled flights, 2 missed flights, 3 actual flights, one lost (and then found) bag of luggage and one drive through the middle of nowhere at night--> I am finally here.”

Oh, Delta, where to begin. Based on the above Facebook post, you can probably guess I have issues with Delta that span beyond their social media program. However, after hearing Delta praised for its @DeltaAssist handle that makes life easier for customers, I was thoroughly disappointed, and frustrated, when I figured out Delta’s bark is definitely bigger than its bite.

I won’t go into the details of my 61 hour trip that should have taken less than four, but I will let you know that the only thing worse than not responding to your customers, is responding to them with false promises.

After being moved through three different lines and two different terminals by Delta employees who had no clue, which eventually led to me missing my first flight, then being put on another flight that was canceled three hours later, I decided it was time to Tweet Delta. Best part? They responded with, “@DeltaAssist: @MarjiJSherman So sorry to hear that you are having so many issues today. If there is anything we can do to assist, please let us know. *RW”

Excuse me?! Now knowing I was going to miss an entire day of work, and not knowing where my luggage was, I was furious. MY issues? Delta, please.

While I came up with a million snarky responses in my head, I thought of my own position handling customer service complaints for my clients, and decided I would not taunt them and take the classy way out.

Then, a day later, not knowing where my luggage was, having two more flights canceled, missing a connection by two minutes (literally), and having my flight out of Detroit canceled because, as the PILOT told us, “We forgot to schedule a first officer for this flight. I am so sorry. I am going to try to find one for this flight,” I was done.

A first officer was not found, and Delta refused to compensate us, saying they do not help customers when it comes to “weather issues”. Dear Delta-- forgetting to schedule a first officer is not a weather issue.

That’s when I decided to Tweet about the ridiculousness of blaming the weather for their own scatterbrained ways. A second later, the lovely @DeltaAssist wrote me back, immediately defending themselves and telling me to direct message them. I did, and a certain JH said that he could help me get on another flight. Hopes up, and ready to take back my frustrated Tweet, I stepped out of line and waited for JH to find me a new flight.

Ten minutes later, I was notified that he could do nothing for me at all, and I would have to find someone in a red Delta jacket in the airport. Thankfully, I was able to get my place back in line.

After spending the night in the Detroit airport (finding out that Delta ran out of blankets, pillows and overnight kits), I was finally able to get to my client the next day.

What can we learn from Delta? I can tell you, the way JH and @DeltaAssist took no responsibility and toyed with me, made me a thousand times more frustrated than had I just not heard from Delta at all.

It is great to use social media as a tool to help your customers, but make sure you are actually able to help them first. Don’t just be there to be there. You will be a much more respected brand if you admit that you don’t have an immediate answer for a customer, than if you pretend you do and take them on a roller coaster ride.

Be authentic. Be real. Don’t make false promises. Believe me, you’ll be a lot more respected for it. (Originally published on 1/12/14)

Update (3/27/14): Nearly three months later, @DeltaAssist reached out to me and asked me to DM them because they were sorry for my issues (again). I did, and they sent me a seemingly genuine note that they read my blog post and took full responsibility for the issues outlined in this post. They offered me a $50 gift card for my troubles. Pros: Giftcard and acknowledgement of their fault in the situation. Cons: It took them nearly three months to respond to the blog post, that called out their handle every time it was published on Twitter over the course of those months.

What do you think of their response? Comment!

-Marji J. Sherman

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