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:

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:

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:

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.):

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

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:

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

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.

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

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:

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.

Am I confirmed?

Long line. For counter.

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:

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

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

About to close the flight…

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:

There’s another person on 5D…?

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.

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

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.

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

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

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


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:

@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.


EZ Up Sell: Integrity is Worth More

So I’m at a conference this week. I almost never get a rental car, but the hotel is a bit of a drive from the airport in DFW, and the shuttle was $112 one way! For an extra $26 I got a car online through EZ Rental Cars (Or something. Little known company, by me at least.) I arrived at the rental car facility at DFW, approached the desk and presented ID.

In the course of paperwork, the clerk offered me the EZ Toll sensor (Classic up sell), which when placed on the windshield auto pays the tolls around the area. The cost for the rental was about $30, plus the cost of tolls. My route was going to take me east and out of Dallas, so I was not going to be traveling any toll roads. As soon as I declined, the up sell picked up speed. I was told that I needed the device to keep from being charged $50 when I ran a toll booth. Driving around town, there was no way I wouldn’t run onto a toll road, and end up paying more than the cost of the sensor rental.

I am not one to just blindly follow a sales suggestion. I live in Orlando. We have tons of toll roads, and two toll companies to pay (Sunpass and E pass). I know how to get around toll roads. It is not required for people to drive on them. I almost grabbed my cards and went to another rental place, paying more just to not have to deal with a company that would do something this slimy. But, I also don’t like it when sales people try to take advantage of folks from out of town. So I began to probe this assertion, vigorously. I never raised my voice, but I did not let this lie, well, lie. The subjects we covered in the conversation were:

– What roads were toll roads? And weren’t the main highways still free?

– Why could I not pay cash at the tolls booth??

– I used to live in DFW, and never owned a toll sensor, and never got a ticket for running one.

– If, as he said toll gates no longer accepted cash, what were the booths at the airport parking/toll gates where people were handing money to toll employees?

– How did tourists who drive into Dallas/Ft Worth without a sensor not get a $50 ticket if this was required to drive around town?

– If there is no way to drive legal without a sensor, why is it even an option? Just roll it into the price of the car.

– And finally, just to be clear, was he telling me there was no way to drive off airport property without getting a $50 ticket for running a toll?

That last one allowed him to back down. During the conversation the sales guy kept saying that I would invariably get a ticket if I didn’t get the sensor. I refused to believe it. His colleague was sitting nearby, with his head in is hands while this went on.

He replied, that no, I could drive off the airport property without getting a ticket for running a toll. I said I must have misunderstood him then, when he had said just the opposite a few minutes before. He then finished the paperwork, checked the car, and off I went.

I know that was uncomfortable for the salesman. He made a statement that was a lie: I would get a $50 fine without his sensor. Instead of backing off when I pushed him, he pressed forward. Yes, if I ran a toll booth I would get a fine. But depending on where I was driving, I may not need the sensor at all. His lie had put him in a bad place. Maybe he was trying to make up the discount I got from using a booking website. Either way, he was trying very hard, and not being truthful

It didn’t have to be that way. He could have tried to sell me the sensor rental, and if I was driving in areas with toll roads, it might have been worth my trouble to get it. As soon as I said no thanks, he could have backed down. But since he started with the lie, he had no where to go. Short of admitting he had told something short of the truth, he was locked into his lie. That kind of life is no fun. He might have lied to me and gotten an extra $30 for his company, but what would he have personally gained?

Living a life of integrity is much easier, and much more fulfilling. The thing about telling the truth is that you don’t have to try to remember what lie you told. You just tell the truth. There’s no stress. There’s no worry, and you can sleep at night. Whatever short-term benefit you might gain from lying isn’t worth the cost of losing your integrity.

By the way, I arrived at the hotel and didn’t pass a single toll booth.