Seeing the Customer Clearly Through All Channels


Today’s post was inspired by a series of interactions I had with VirginAmerica this week .  Two lessons to be learned….

In one week, the family is headed to Southern California for a vacation.  Although not as convenient and more expensive than flying out of Richmond, we decided (after standing up to considerable pressure from our daughter) to fly VirginAmerica from DC.  Don’t tell her, but I’m looking forward to the experience.

Like all airlines, VirginAmerica has a rewards program.  Theirs is called Elevate.  Prior to purchasing our tickets in January, I joined the Elevate program.  This past week, I received the following email from VirginAmerica:


You joined Elevate but have not flown us. That just won’t do. We want you to come and see what you’ve been missing, so here’s a special offer just for you – 30% off our lowest advertised fare on your flight with Virgin America.

Now I love a good deal and this clearly is one, but there’s a big problem here.  You see, I already bought tickets to fly with them, and I might add, didn’t get the 30% discount, so why doesn’t their Marketing department know that???  Companies that deliver a truly exceptional customer experience, do so consistently at every touchpoint. My expectations for VirginAmerica have been set high based on feedback from other customers and  their advertising.  That e-mail sent the message that they aren’t aware I’ve already booked flights.  That is not what I would expect from a company focused on a great customer experience.

Lesson #1: Take advantage of the rich customer information you have at every touchpoint.  Don’t send a solicitation that says “Hey, when are you going to buy my stuff” if I already have!


Twitter to the Rescue

Many companies have established a presence on Facebook and Twitter, but the ones that approach those communities as listeners and facilitators are the ones demonstrating that they get it.  VirginAmerica  (@VirginAmerica on Twitter) is one who gets it.  This morning, I mentioned my frustration about the email experience in at “tweet” to Nick Schwartz, the guy behind the VirginAmerica Twitter presence.  The response was almost immediate.  He gave me his email address and asked me to send a note telling my story (in more than 140 characters), which I did.  To be clear, I was not asking for nor did I have any expectations that my email would result in a fare reduction or other adjustment.  I simply wanted to communicate an opportunity to inprove the customer experience.  Nick passed my email up the chain and within an hour I got a reply from VirginAmerica Guest Care indicating they had forwarded my concerns to the marketing department.

I love the immediacy of being able to tap a company on the shoulder and start a conversation with out having to go to their place (i.e. website, 800#).

Lesson #2: If your company is participating in Social Media channels, take a lead from companies like VirginAmerica.  Listen and Help first.  The value that you deliver by doing that helps to strengthen your brand over time.


9 comments so far

  1. johnrhopkins on

    Great story “Douglas”!
    A perfect example of how listening and prompt, good customer service can make up for flaws in the customer experience systems that are in place.

  2. BJ Cook on

    I find this to be very common in that social media becomes the security blanket or “day-saver” for whatever other types of marketing a brand is executing. Things aren’t integrated like they should, divisions don’t talk to each other, etc. Glad to see a quick response and I think the expectation now is that if they’re on Twitter and they are monitoring their mentions, you’ll get some type of feedback. It’s good to know someone is listening 😉

  3. Becky Carroll on

    Doug, great post on the customer experience; hey, I expect no less from you! 😉

    I can’t wait to hear how your Virgin America experience goes; our Virgin Airlines experiences were always good ones. The lack of integration across touchpoints is so common these days that it doesn’t surprise me you got a cool email that didn’t acknowledge your business already with the airline. Great that Twitter was able to respond; now if they can just integrate that team with the rest of the org, they might have something!

  4. Ray Schiel - raygsmn on

    “Listen and Help first. The value that you deliver by doing that helps to strengthen your brand over time.”

    That can never be stated enough.

    I enjoyed this article because it was a personal experience of yours thta you were willing to share and how it ties in with a Social Media approach.


  5. Sam - Free Gift Cards on

    I believe that it’s the nature of social media websites to help each other.

  6. farhad on

    Award sadaf coffee shop iran10000000 000000

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    Or register on the same page or website Date section you can write YES or NO

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    Schulz Havvrd the president of Starbucks strongly enough Shaphay chain is angry oyster Farhad zafari Hshjyn is sought soon its branches abroad, especially Islamic countries to open.

    Because we can not.

    We can compete with Starbucks we have the specter of his experience knowledge in this industry like a coffee shop, we look at the industry.
    Starbucks does not sell air Plv coffee and other food products is difficult. We Starbucks CEO Mr. Schulz announced Havvrd we Iranians and Farsi speaking with support Srasrjhan Shaphay enough Starbucks will replace the shell. (Competition), not Labyhay? Etc.

    Knowledge, experience, art, daring, quality, quantity, health, personnel and support the Iranian people and Farsi speakers worldwide attention and the possibility of God will give to us.

  7. jhone darly on

    Gas Safe Registered, Worcester Accredited, Gas Boiler Installation, Service and Repair across St Albans and surrounding areas.He lives the values that drive great customer service.i read it.thanks.

  8. Flavio @ on

    Great story! Looks like Virgin America is committed to the customer experience process. They’ve even stuck to the 5 tips to great customer service I’ve discussed here:

  9. Maryke on

    Great article, thanks! Customer service is probably one of the most underrated things in this world – truly a dying art. I have come across a website which allows me to receive the customer service I deserve. By writing reports about my Suppliers, and allowing them to respond to me regarding the matter at hand, has helped restore my faith in customer service.

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