Southwest Airlines ran into a bit of a turmoil couple of weeks ago after removing movie director Kevin Smith from a flight. Cause: Too overweight to fit in one seat. The incident didn’t end up particularly well, since Mr. Kevin Smith shared his discomfort with his plus one million Twitter followers.
The damage was done even though Southwest Airlines social media team and PR people rushed into cool things off. Why? As Paul Carr at TechCrunch points out, media just loooves Twitter campaigns, regardless whether the person or company being mistreated is famous or not. As the Twittersphere keeps growing it just won’t be enough for companies to praise its customers like Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly does. Unless every employee is to run a check on how influential a customer and his/her Twitter followers are, before even thinking of not treating a customer at the very best to avoid a meltdown, quote: “Companies are going to have to start treating every single person in the world like a VIP.” (Even with the Twitter check one still can’t be sure. The customer might just know the power of hashtags and fire off #fail and #whateverthecompanysnameis, and off the Twitter avalanche goes.)
Like any startup and true entrepreneur knows, every person and customer is important. This is where I think AirAsia is getting a head start regarding real-time social media.