AdvertisingAge just posted an article praising aviation giant Boeing for the way it handled what could have been a serious social media misstep. After an 8-year-old boy sent a crayon-drawn picture to the company, the jet manufacturer sent a delightful and child-friendly note (ha…ha…), including the oh-so-gracious lines: “While we appreciate your interest, we regret to inform you that we have disposed of your message and retained no copies,” and “Please understand that this was done on the basis of an established company policy, not on the merit of your idea.”
Warms your heart, right?
If you’re like the boy’s father, advertising executive John Winsor, you are less than impressed with this reaction. So Mr. Winsor did what any parent engaged in social media could do: he made it public by blogging about it. Winsor used this as a “teachable moment,” a call to action (social media-style) about the necessity of changing customer service as-we-know-it to become a nimbler, more meaningful interaction. He challenged not just Boeing, but all organizations to make customer service personal.
The beauty of this situation is that Boeing got it! The company apologized via Twitter and not only publicly acknowledged their mistake, but also rectified the problem by inviting the budding jet designer to visit. And Boeing did all this using the very same tools that were poised to create a firestorm of negative reactions to the company.
You may say that if the child wasn’t an advertising executive’s son, Boeing may not have responded as well; that for “Jon Doe Jr.,” there would be no such apology or effort to rectify the situation. I say that’s the power of social media: followings can be created overnight; you don’t need star power, a high-powered title or even a regular newspaper column to influence public sentiment anymore. And we all need to adapt and reexamine our service models.
Kudos, Boeing, for setting the example!