The Good, Bad, and the Ugly Behind Social Media and Customer Service

By: Morgan McAnally

Twitter: @morgan_mcanally

We have all experienced the horrors, the helpfulness, and the ugliness of customer service on social media. Whether it’s a helpful comment from a business or a live feed of a situation that is happening with a business (i.e. United Airlines), if you haven’t experienced it personally then you sure have seen it on the news. Social media plays a huge part in how companies react nowadays regarding their customer service experience and here are some examples of how it has affected them in a positive, negative and all out ugly way.

The Good

There is no doubt that social media has made it easier for us to communicate with our favorite brands and tell them what is working for us and what we would like them to change. There has been a lot of positive reinforcement that comes with company’s customer service and here are a few examples:

  • The Ritz-Carlton and “Joshie” the Giraffe

When a young boy left his stuffed animal “Joshie” the giraffe on accident during check-out at the Ritz-Carlton, they ensured the him that he had a splendid extended stay. When the hotel staff found the stuffed giraffe they then took a series of pictures of him enjoying a relaxing massage in the spa, laying out at the pool, as well as making other stuffed animal friends at the hotel. The father took to social media to tell his story on the incident which was then shared thousands of times on Facebook.

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While going home one evening a JetBlue passenger tweeted the company’s customer service how she was sad to be coming back home from her trip and jokingly asked if they would throw a welcome home parade in her honor. Well her wish was her command because once she landed back home at her destination she walked into a welcome-home parade with JetBlue’s workers!


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The Bad

It’s been known that more people go to social media to complain or publicize something that negatively happened to them vs when something positive happens to them. When this happens it is very important as a brand/company to respond quickly and appropriately. However, for some companies that haven’t been the case. Here are a few examples:

  • British Airways Long Response Time

While highly annoyed for not finding his father’s suitcase Hassan Syed paid for a Promoted Tweet that states, “Don’t fly @BritishAirways. Their customer service is horrendous.” When it took 8 hours for the Airline to respond, Syed’s response was not the most positive…


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  • American Airlines Positive Response

Many of you are thinking after reading the headline “what is so wrong with a positive response?”, well in American Airlines case, positivity is always a solution even when it makes ZERO sense. As many companies have automated messages sent out, sometimes it’s best to closely monitor them to ensure that they are at least making sense….


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The Ugly

Now, this is where companies should be worried. IF your brand falls under the Ugly, it could be too late or very hard to come back from. It has been harder these days for companies to control their negative publicity with how powerful social media has become. These instances have shown how ugly customer service can get and how the situation became so bad that there may be no turning back.

  • The United Airlines Fiasco 

Many of you are aware of the many problems that have been happening with United Airlines. From the verbal abuse of not letting 2 girls on the plane for wearing leggings to the physical abuse of removing David Dao from his seat. United Airlines has been in the top news this starting new year and it isn’t looking up for them from here.

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  • FedEx Un-delicate Package Delivery

Over the holiday’s people are extremely impatient when it comes to receiving their packages. In this ugly incident, a worker from FedEx was shown on tape throwing a customer’s package over the gate, breaking the computer monitor inside. The YouTube video was seen over 9 million times and the company was forced to respond and apologize for their lack of care and promised to reimburse the customer.

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Published by

UNT Eagle Strategies

Class members of the social media class in the Mayborn School of Journalism