I don’t know the whole story, but apparently, Kevin Smith (you might know him as Silent Bob) was booted off of a Southwest flight last night because he was too fat for one seat and didn’t purchase two. He immediately took to Twitter to demonstrate his frustration to all 1.6 million of his followers by telling @southwestair to “go fuck themselves.”
Who knows what’s trued and what’s screenplay worthy. Honestly, I don’t really even care. But what I do care about is a belligerent b-list celeb who wants to make a scene and try to take a brand down with him. Southwest’s Twitter team immediately responded to the issue via a public tweet and “@reply” to Kevin Smith. That’s how I learned of the whole thing.
But how should Southwest handled the situation? They were really screwed either way:
- If they publicly respond, then they show consumers and followers of each side that they are connected, listening and working on a solution. BUT, they also bring more exposure to the situation and start take on more of a defensive stance.
- They might have responded via direct message, but Kevin Smith wasn’t following them back.
- They also followed up with a well-written blog post explaining the situation to anyone who is interested.
It’s was quite the conundrum, but I think Southwest handled it just about as well as they could have. What’s to learn here?
- Respond fast, but be confident in your policies – although Southwest came across as a little desperate in their initial tweets responding to the problem, they resolved all of that in the blog post.
- Put customer service first and it usually works out – anyone who reads both sides of the story can’t fault Southwest for their willingness to make the situation right. In almost every example, they apologized and asked for an opportunity to make it right.
- Apologize for the experience, not the policy – Southwest worded it perfectly when they said sorry for the experience. If they would have cowered and said sorry for deeming him too fat for one seat, then a huge firestorm would have erupted.