This Monday, after former Oakland Raiders quarterback, Matt Flynn, was cut by the team, raidernationtimes.com founder, Elias Trejo, tweeted out a joke that accidentally exposed one of the biggest flaws in "big brand" social media customer service: automation and lack of "true" customer care.
The situation went down like this. After Flynn was cut, Trejo tweeted out that "Gets even worse for Flynn. He booked a 1st class ticket home from American Airlines. He was immediately demoted to 3rd class and cut."
An obvious joke about the situation, as Flynn was brought onto the team to be the starter, but then lost the job to current starting quarterback Terelle Pryor. But the jab flew over the head of the airline's social media manager, as they replied with: "We're not sure what you mean, Elias. Have Flynn contact us directly if assistance is needed."
To which, Trejo replied, "unless you can help someone with a weak arm & inability to read a blitz, I think it may be beyond your ability to control." And, sure enough, American Airlines responded with another inability to read the blitz of its own and responded with another automated response: "We're not so sure we can help with that, Elias. Hope to see you on board soon."
The situation, while comical, points to a bigger issue with big brands and "customer service." In an effort to handle the largest amount of complaints/questions, big brands are switching to automated responses from social media managers and robots that direct one to contact customer service. For some, the "personal" touch may seem welcoming from big brands. But, for most, they just don't get the point of automated responses on social media that direct people to contact customer service.
In essence, this type of "customer service" on social media isn't really customer service at all. It's an attempt to make you feel like you're getting a "personal touch" from big brands. When, in reality, all the customer is getting is an automated response that does nothing to solve the problem.
For most social media managers, running social for big brands is not in the cards. But if you are a social media manager, learning customer service from big brands with huge followings is not a successful blueprint for success in social media. Social media is about authentic conversation, personal engagement, and creative problem solving. Especially if you manage social for a small business. The minute your social media voice becomes unauthentic, you lose the personal connection that drives customers to connect, engage, and buy from businesses.
And, as American Airlines showed in this conversation, that is not in their game plan.