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Learnings from the BA Sachin ‘drama’

So, a few days ago there was a huge hullabaloo over Sachin Tendulkar’s tweets around his disappointment with British Airways.British-Airways-Aircraft--001

In case, by some remote chance, you missed it here are his tweets.

_86665131_3025b3f7-bf0f-4801-bd3d-f1bd637768ef_86665133_23ba61d1-9a17-4088-babe-0597151a8dc0And here is BA’s response..

_86664484_5e8df018-d9ec-43ab-a4f4-b3c2b4cee7a5This seemingly concerned tweet from BA had Sachin’s followers in arms. How can BA ask for Sachin’s details. After all who doesn’t know Sachin.

The whole saga has been well covered by my friend @Saritharai here. http://www.forbes.com/sites/saritharai/2015/11/13/how-a-standard-twitter-response-has-makings-of-a-pr-disaster-for-british-airways-in-india/.

Then there were the saner bunch of people who asked questions around ‘whose baggage was lost? Sachin or his family’s?’ ‘How can BA be expected to know Sachin’s exact passport name’ etc.

Many fingers pointed out to the templated response from large corporations. Some expected that poor fellow, from BA, who tweeted to be fired. Maybe he, or she was as well.

As a marketer I have 3 lessons to share

  1. Response: BA got this right. Within 15 minutes of the original Sachin tweet, there was a response. Now I don’t know about you, but my experience with customer service on-line is patchy. Staying with the airlines industry I have tweeted twice. Once to Qatar and once to Emirates. Qatar was prompt and we had a proper twitterversation. Emirates did not bother to respond. I think the fact that BA responded and that they did in 15 minutes gets them full marks on that score. But that’s where it stops.
  2. Handling complaints: I was in a restaurant last month. And the guy next to me was unhappy about something and started shouting at the waiter. Within minutes the manager showed up. Started talking to the angry customer and placated him and all of us could continue with our meal in peace. Someone tweeting is akin to shouting. Sachin shouted out to his 8.4 mn followers that he was unhappy with BA. And BA shouted right back ‘Hey tell me what’s the problem’. Completely wrong. Take complaints private immediately. You can then apologise, give freebies etc and satisfy the customer. You don’t negotiate in public.
  3. Know your customers: With data available in plenty, data storage being cheap and adequate technology solutions out there every marketer should have a database of their most valued customers and prospects. Complete with their twitter handles, instagram accounts, facebook profiles etc. Cover every aspect of the social media channels and set them up in the ‘social media control room’. The moment someone in that list makes a complaint that should initiate a protocol that involves a high touch program. A call, an email whatever it takes. In some industries this list is static. In the services business this is a bit more dynamic. eg: All first class bookings MUST be in that list. This may be different from the high value customer list. I don’t expect this master ‘watch list’ to be more than a few thousand. If BA had this set up, the moment @sachin_rt tweeted with the words ‘Angry’, ‘Disappointed’, ‘Frustrated’ the flag would have gone up. An account manager would have tracked him down and called him. It’s not so hard. At the risk of a plug, IBM has the knowledge, skills and technology to make this happen today.

So that is what I learnt from this drama.

BA responded and promptly, but wrongly. And their CRM system needs to be set up appropriately to include social media footprints of their valued customers and prospects.

This episode again shows that non issues can threaten a brand in a relatively short time. Having proper mechanisms to deal with it is critical. Large companies need it more than the small ones. And large companies like IBM can help (another plug;-))

  1. November 15, 2015 at 5:40 pm

    I guess BA should relook at their social customer care. Most of the Social Media Listening tools these days offer filters for verified twitter profiles. So, a watchlist of high profile flyers is not that difficult. The Social Media and customer care teams should take the responsibility for this goof up.

  2. Ravi Busi
    November 16, 2015 at 7:04 pm

    Very well written article . . . I liked one thing you mentioned Harish @ Take complaints in private and resolve . . . true! Unfortunately most of the brands don’t even respond a common man !! I see another perspective if Sachin was not Sachin Tendulkar his tweets would never get any response !!

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