British Airways is on the brink of being another case study of a brand that could not control its own communications strategy in a crisis. Customers are claiming this morning on Twitter that BA's website and phone lines are both down, and this is while BA is announcing on Twitter that all flights from Heathrow and from Gatwick from 10am-5pm today are cancelled. See some of the customer tweets here, here and here.
Problem is, when someone's flights are cancelled, the passengers are either in limbo or at worst stranded. When phones and the website are all down but Twitter is actually being used and operated as a comms channel and it is working, Twitter should be staffed up and run as a customer comms channel on steroids. Fair play to BA, someone is on it. But why not do more?
- BA is tweeting a lot. Not enough, but a lot. Use their Twitter address in your tweets and chances are you'll get an answer. Don't say "British Airways" or BA, say @British_Airways. They will see your tweet more easily
- Be specific in your tweet. You'll get a quicker answer. Think about how the BA people are coping - at the moment about five tweets per minute are coming in
- Follow BA and you might get a follow back, then you can do DMs. Some brands like DMs as the crisis can be dealt with in private
Some ideas for BA's comms people:
- Do a throrough Twitter search, don't just rely on replies. Here's a suggestion. Keep the tab open to track live alerts. Then subscribe to the RSS feed in Google Reader and this will give you a permanent log
- Follow everyone that mentions you. You can then have DM conversations
- Work across teams. Have someone who could have all the answers to people's questions on the phone or with you, then stream the answers over Twitter to incoming questions
- Use hash tags for specifics, like flight numbers. Customers can then track conversations and self-serve better
- To let everyone see @replies as well as your recipient, don't put the @ as the first character of the tweet. This will help cut down on tweet volume
That's just a few quick thoughts, hopefully they're of some interest of use to some people out there.