Customer Care Through Twitter: A Delta Story

Friday was a big day for me. For the first time in almost 20 years I was flying First Class. I had cashed in some Skymiles for the upgrade. The first leg of the trip was great. I did not know that I would not only bypass check in lines, but also the security line in DFW at the Delta terminal. It took less than 5 minutes to get through the process. I had time for a sit down meal at a restaurant.

Then I got to board early, and got a soft drink before we took off, and they kept offering me snacks throughout the flight. No hot towel, though. I guess that doesn’t happen anymore.

Just as I landed, and I turned on my phone I got a voicemail. My next flight had been delayed by a couple of hours. I was scheduled to leave about 7:15, now it would be 9:10.

I tweeted:

“iamscottlink
Oh Delta, what would cause u to delay my connection by 2 hours? Instead of 7PM it’s now 9PM. #stuckinATL”

And asked the gate agent if there was another flight to Orlando. There was one leaving at 6:00. I swung by the gate, no one was there yet. And really, I was OK. I would watch a movie in the terminal while I waited.

I tweeted again:

iamscottlink
When I scheduled my @delta flight I had layover with time for dinner. Now I have time for dinner and a movie. Too bad no theater here.

Almost immediately @DeltaAssist replied back and offered to help. I was not planning on do anything but waiting, so I headed to a restaurant. I was seated, and ordered a Coke, when my phone rang again. Delta was now saying my flight would not leave until after 11:00 PM, and I wouldn’t get home until after 1:00 AM. Whoa. That was not so cool. Suddenly I was interested in changing flights. But so was everyone else on my flight. I followed @DeltaAssist on twitter and was waiting for them to follow me. I tweeted:

iamscottlink
At least Delta calls you to let u know when they another couple hrs to your layover. What’s 7 hrs between friends?#thinkpositive

The interesting thing here is that I wasn’t throwing a fit. Just commenting on my flight being delayed. But Delta was listening, and responding. I gave them my confirmation number. And we started talking (I’m going to share their DM’s because I think Delta was amazing on this, and I want people to see how it’s done.):

iamscottlink
supposed to Leave at about 7:00. Now scheduled for after 11PM! Whoa. What happened? 7 hr layover

DeltaAssist
I have the 6P flight for you if you want to get on that? ^AK

That gate was in Terminal B, and I was in Terminal A, and it was already after 5:00. I settled up with the restaurant and moved that direction. As I was moving, I was messaging back and forth:

iamscottlink
Any chance of 1st class? I spent miles to upgrade. Hate to lose them.

DeltaAssist
Actually that’s why I can do that for you, so it’s first class and at 6PM. ^AK

So my First Class ticket was going to make this work. I rounded the corner where I could see the gate, and it looked like the entire 7:15 (now delayed to 11:00) flight was there. The plane was boarding and this looked hopeless.

iamscottlink
At gate. In line. Now what? Never did this over twittter

DeltaAssist
Great, sorry for the short notice, but I’m glad I could get you home earlier. ^AK

I’m standing there, watching the line go very slowly. Meanwhile stand-by is being processes, and the plane is on the next to last zone for boarding. I’m getting nervous. I leave the line and go to a Delta “Scan & Go” terminal, to see if things had been processed. If I could get a new boarding pass, I would be golden. After finding one that worked, I got conformation that I was on the 6:00PM flight, but had no seat assignment. I moved back to the line.

I tweet publicly:

iamscottlink
Waiting to see Delta work. Minor miracle.

My confidence is low. Is this really going to work? There are dozens of people trying to get on this flight.

iamscottlink
Am I confirmed?

iamscottlink
Long line. For counter.

DeltaAssist
I have a supervisor coming to you, but continue to wait in line. We’re having some issues so I apologize. ^AK

I am watching the gate screen, and I see every Business/1st Class seat taken. The number is 26. Then a few minutes later the number drops to 24. Turns out that the kind of plane had changed earlier, but the computer hadn’t updated it. This comes into play later. Still messaging back and forth:

iamscottlink
K. Whole other flight trying to get on this one.

DeltaAssist
Yes they are, but I called a supervisor so they should be there for you since you are confirmed in first class. Sorry for this. ^AK

iamscottlink
About to close the flight…

DeltaAssist
Hang tight, they have you in seat 5D

Sure enough, the flight is almost closed, and they call two more names out of the crowd. Mine is one of them. I couldn’t believe it. Me and another young guy had made it. I was smiling big time. Chatting down the jetway, he explained that he bought the upgrade from coach to 1st Class so he could make the flight. I told him I used twitter.

I entered the plane, walked to my seat, to find it filled. Every seat in the 1st Class cabin was full. Uh-oh. Flight attendants start checking passes. There are two for 5D, and two for 4A. I learn that the plane type had changed, which changed the number of seats in 1st Class. The gate agent comes down. I am still messaging my contact:

iamscottlink
There’s another person on 5D…?

DeltaAssist
Tell the flight attendant, the gate agent should be telling them that you are in that seat. ^AK

Meanwhile the Gate Agent is delivering some bad news to people who got upgraded. They are going to have to move back to coach. Not getting kicked off the plane, just moved back to coach. They hadn’t paid for 1st class, so they were being moved. This did not go over well. I thought one guy was going to get taken away by security.

I’m feeling bad, like I’m delaying the plane, but then they announce that we have to wait for two pilots before we can leave. They need a lift and were supposed to be on the later flight. I message some more, and watch the drama unfold. Finally I am taken to a seat.

iamscottlink
I am sitting in 6D right now. Hope that’s right. They bumped some guy back.

DeltaAssist
I would stick with it. I hope they know how patient & understanding you are & to give you a nice drink for all you had to deal with. ^AK

Then they offer me a voucher as well.

iamscottlink
Thanks for the quick assist. When will my bags arrive in Orlando?

DeltaAssist
They will probably be on the 7:15P flight, which is estimate out at 11:20P, so we will deliver it to your house tomorrow. ^AK

DeltaAssist
You will have to put in a claim for it when you get to MCO at the bag service center. ^AK
17 hours ago

iamscottlink
Thanks.

DeltaAssist
You’re welcome. I’m glad I could help. Have a great weekend. ^AK

I couldn’t believe it. I was on the flight, in 1st Class. I tweeted publicly:

iamscottlink
@DeltaAssist just hooked me up! First Class and home before original flight!

I got to MCO, filled out the form for my bags, and they arrived at my house this morning.

From a customer service perspective, this was a great exchange. Look at what they did. I was not irate, but I had publicly mentioned my flight was delayed. They offered help. When my flight was delayed again, I took them up on it. Then they stayed with me through the whole process, even when things got very weird with the seats. It wasn’t get me on the flight and drop me, they stayed with me. They didn’t do the bare minimum.

What did they get? Improved relationship with me. Public thanks for their effort, both on twitter and here. Not to mention the word of mouth advertising I’m going to do as I repeat this story. Just because they had people sitting at computers who knew who to call and how to help.

They did not know that I had pretty much switched over to Southwest as an airline. I was just cashing in miles here, and that’s the only reason I was on Delta. But now… I think I’ll look at rates for Delta, too, next time I need to fly.

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