British Airways Reputation

The nature of negative content posted towards brands and companies on social media varies on scales from moderate to extreme. The “moderate” comments are easier to deal wit. The customer is usually expressing some dissatisfaction with his/her experience and wants an answer. The “extreme” comments are those that are difficult to deal with. The customer usually takes it to a personal level and will stop at very little in order to make sure his/her voice is heard…loudly.

An incident involving British Airways on Twitter had an irate customer go to that “extreme” level of Screen Shot 2014-06-11 at 9.14.41 PMpublic criticism. This tweet didn’t fall on deaf ears, and was actually quite popular with fellow users of the Twitter platform. There are a few ways to approach this type of post. You can opt to complain to the social platform (in this case Twitter), grovel or provide some sort of compensation. With all of these being very reasonable ways to deal with the situation, I feel the most ethical approach would be to offer compensation to this man and sincerely apologize.

It’s important to first note that these types of complaints should never be ignored! They will never just “vanish” from the social media realm once posted. The apology should come prior to offering the compensation. A good response to his tweet could be:

“On behalf of British Airways, we sincerely apologize for your disappointing experience. We will make sure this never happens again!”

Once this heartfelt message is tweeted to the aggressive party, it is important to follow up on it. A great way to do this is to send a “direct message,” so you can be sure that you have tried to contact in all ways available on the platform. If you receive a reply from the customer, then you can move on to offering compensation. I feel this should be done privately with direct messaging so everyone doesn’t see it that follows the brand.


Now it is important to judge the situation and find out what compensation will be mutually beneficial to both you and the customer. I think since this is an extreme situation, a discount or free plane ticket (within reason) should be sent to the customer. It should include a message, such as:

“Due to your displeasure with our service, please enjoy a free plane ticket on your next British Airways adventure. We do not like losing anyone of our customers, and we hope you find this acceptable in relation to your situation. Once again, we apologize and we guarantee this will never happen again.”

If the customer is satisfied, I think it is then appropriate to follow up with him. Perhaps send a request for him to tweet that British Airways has resolved the situation. This will make sure people who saw the original angry tweet, now know there has been resolution.

The main key is to always treat the customer with respect, regardless of the situation. Maintaining a positive reputation online for your brand is vital in today’s marketplace.



4 thoughts on “British Airways Reputation

  1. Hi Gavin,

    I also think that British Airways should have followed up with the angry customer as well. In my opinion, posting a very vague comment like that in response to a promoted, viral tweet is very weak. There should have been more of an effort made. (Although, they have done more than United! I will give them props for that!)

    Following up with consumers can be a hard habit to make, especially when you consider how many comments some brands receive. I’m sure some of these comments are pretty memorable…and probably worth taking the time to follow up on! I’ve never had a brand do this. I think it would be a nice change on social media. Maybe if enough brands do it it will become common practice!

    Reputation management is not a priority for many brands. Reputation is something that needs to be taken more seriously. I hope more companies will learn from these negative experiences! Great post!

  2. Thanks Gavin. Do you think the man acted ethically by paying to complain?

    • Yes I do, Justin. I believe that because he wanted answers, and didn’t want his complaint to fall on deaf ears. I think that is why it is so important to have that 24/7 or written out times that the social media account will be providing replies. I’m guessing he tried to tweet at them without paying for it, and got no response. I’d like to think that this man set an example for how important it is for companies to diffuse any situation in a timely and professional manner.

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