Tell The New Delta That Actions Speak Louder Than Words

Earlier this month, I wrote about “The New Delta”. They are running some interesting innovation tests intended to “change the experience”. They are also using employee-generated videos that feature exciting destinations in an attempt to put a human face on the airline and promised to open a customer forum to really engage customers in conversations. In my post, I applauded these moves.

Too bad Delta’s Marketing team didn’t tell the Operations team that they were going to “change the experience”. This week, passenger Robert McKee was stuck on the JFK tarmac for seven hours. After two hours, he started recording the experience and posted the final product on YouTube. His post has these comments:

“Delta Flight 6499 JFK to DFW on June 25 2007 experienced more than just a routine delay.. for seven hours, four children screamed, and we were told by crew that they couldn’t feed us because Delta simply wouldn’t allow it”

The video documents multiple problems and Delta’s failure to address any of them in a truthful way or with respect to their customers. Examples:

  • Passengers were told a new captain “is making his way through the terminal”, when in reality, he was coming in from Newark.
  • Delta told Mr. McKee’s wife that the plane was in the air. This was right after she spoke with him by cellphone and they were still on the ground.

Lots of bloggers are picking up this story this evening and I suspect more will over the coming days. Companies need to take note:

Talk is cheap. Telling customers that you are changing the experience when your actions say otherwise, is more damaging that not promising anything. Your customer’s have the power to create compelling stories about their experiences and social media makes it very easy to have those stories broadcast to a wide audience.


3 comments so far

  1. Matt Haverkamp on

    At some point common sense should take over for those of the crew and they would take the initiative to help alleviate any pain. In other words, just give everyone some crackers.

    This does not surprise me though.

  2. Katie on

    Very true! Delta’s new initiative will never get off the ground if they don’t care enough to make sure their customers have a quality experience. They can spend all the time and money that they want trying to convince people that Delta cares for them… and then send their image plummeting by doing something incredibly stupid like that.

    I was once on a plane that was delayed 4 hours on the ground in London, but after an hour and a half, the flight attendents announced that they were serving free snacks and drinks (alcoholic ones too) just as if we were already in the air. They also played games with passengers and gave tours of the (accessible) areas of the plane.

    It was a long, tiring wait… but everyone was laughing and reasonably happy.

  3. Gumbo Show Joe on

    I have to say it is VERY frustrating to watch the commercials about the “NEW” Delta with promises of all of the upgrades they are offering. I have flown Delta several times since the campaign was launched, and I have seen NONE of the new entertainment options, new food options, better seats, etc. Delta, don’t make empty promises…

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