Multi-Channel Customer Service: @DeltaAssist Leads the Way

I’m speaking at a conference next week, and the topic is about customer service and its growth across multiple channels. The first thing I thought of to talk about was Delta’s @DeltaAssist program. If you are not aware of this program, it is Delta’s way of using Twitter (and now Facebook) to help its customers in real time.

But, wait, you say. Delta (and every other airline) has a call center. That’s real time, isn’t it? So what’s the big deal?

We all know that there is nothing more frustrating than calling a call center. The issues we have with them include: navigating the menu system, waiting forever to talk to someone, being placed on hold a million times, and finding out they can’t actually do anything to help you (or they need to transfer you to a different department who might be able to help).

Delta has thought about these issues and has come up with (on most accounts) a win. People simply tweet @DeltaAssist with their problem, and they try to solve the problem for you. Sounds simple, right? It is a simple concept, but the dynamics of this kind of help system are huge. First, there is no wading through voice prompts to get to the right person. You simply tweet. Because Twitter is already accessible via your favorite device, your communication line is, by definition, convenient and of your choice. While you do have to wait to get a tweet back from them, you aren’t on hold, and don’t need to stand with your eye to the phone. Plus, so many prefer not to have to talk to someone on the phone, and this tweet version of customer service makes that possible.

As I am writing this column, I have twitter.com/DeltaAssist up on my browser. Some of the recent tweets include:

To @DeltaAssist after a series of exchanges wherein a problem was solved:

@deltaassist Thank you so much! I don’t understand why phone reps can’t do what you did. I really appreciate it.

From @DeltaAssist to a different customer:

I hear you! Sprite 39C see a FA & see if they could grab you a bag of pretzels. Keep tweeting us. We’re here to assist.

Two things stand out to me from just the few exchanges I have read. First, people are shocked at how much @DeltaAssist can help them. They seem to have more power throughout the organization than the call center reps do.

Second, Delta is human. It has a personality and isn’t afraid to use it. Their Twitter account cheerily answers mundane questions (what are the carry on rules?) to complicated problems (can you change my seat, upgrade me, etc.).

Moreover, Delta is accruing a long list of followers (almost 19,000 as of this writing) and collecting fans who are becoming loud mouthpieces for Delta’s success. The very idea that personal customer service conversations are public places a huge spotlight on Delta to do a good job. The actual customer service call is its advertisement for its service. It’s a terrific idea from a customer experience perspective, and a genius idea from a marketing perspective.

Who else is doing multi-channel customer right? Is @DeltaAssist the only program that seems to be grabbing these new channels by their horns and exploiting them to the benefit of all involved? Let me know by writing a comment below. Plus, what can your company do to better serve your customers over these new channels? Delta raised the bar, and now it’s your move.

Until next time…
Jack