Airline Complaints Reaching New Heights


By Benjamin Wasserman


There is no such thing as bad publicity…well, on second thought, there actually might be. Such an example, for instance, is this: imagine you are head of an airline and a viral video surfaces of your employees forcefully dragging a seemingly harmless man off one of your airplanes. In fact, this video will probably be shared on social media hundreds of thousands of times and be seen by millions of people.

Newspapers usually do not go viral in today’s age of technology. Headlines are instead created by the average citizen through likes and retweets that are seen by thousands before those actually involved in the situation can even issue a statement. This can be devastating for companies considering word-of-mouth marketing today encompasses word-of-screen as well. Research from HubSpot shows that people are more likely to believe online consumer reviews than advertisements and the likelihood of a purchase is 71% higher when it is referred by social media.


This can be a double-edged sword as the extremely negative reviews have a much higher probability of going viral than the good customer reviews do. United Airlines is all too familiar with this problem. Last year they refused service to two teenage girls because their leggings were deemed inappropriate attire, causing a social media uproar accusing the airline of sexism. In another instance, the airline injured a 69 year old doctor while unceremoniously removing him from a flight in order to make room for their own employees. Complaints against all U.S. airlines increased by 70% in the month following this incident. This past year they again went viral after a dog that was forced to be stowed in the overhead compartment died as a result during a flight. Everybody in the world was able to see and react to these blunders because social media has become a popular channel for customer support. As a result, some airlines have stated that they will only respond to formal complaints via their website or over the phone.  Other airlines are making social media customer support a priority and trying to cut back on the average response time of 20 minutes. There is an alternative method to these to provide customer support that is quicker and just as simple as social media, while also maintaining the privacy of the customer.


Cloudonix can provide the technology to improve the customer support aspect of travel and as such, the travel experience itself. Currently, customers primarily have the option to navigate through pages of a website, wait on hold until the appropriate representative is ready, or frustratedly tweet to solve their airline issues. Cloudonix offers a solution that gives users the ability to directly chat or call a member of the support team when problems emerge straight from the Airline’s mobile APP. Whether the problem be booking a flight, claiming a refund, or retrieving lost luggage, among others, the support team will know what the problem is immediately through contextual communications if the customer is using the application. The communication services should also reduce the number of complaints by keeping travelers up to date with travel alerts. Users can receive a notification with changing flight conditions as soon as they happen. Users may also include a friend’s phone number to receive these alerts for each flight so those picking up others from the airport will be up to date too.

Offering customers straightforward and quick access to support in this fashion will improve their experience and keep stories of negative experiences from spreading to other consumers.

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