Today’s props go to Bolt Bus. This company has carved out a unique niche as a discount transportation option competing with Mega Bus and other discount carriers. A joint venture between Greyhound and Peter Pan, Bolt Bus provides perks such as free wi-fi, plug-ins, extra leg room and guaranteed seating that appeal to a younger, budget-minded audience.
Realizing that this audience is a heavy user of social media, Bolt Bus has leveraged tools such as Twitter (where it boasts more than 21,000 followers) and Facebook to communicate with its riders. It does some smart things such as encouraging passengers to submit Twitpics that they upload to their Facebook page. They also get that good customer service is good social media marketing.
Case in point, two weeks ago I chose to save about $100 and take Bolt Bus instead of the train from NYC to Boston. The trip was comfortable, I had an interesting conversation with the woman next to me about birth order (she was able to pull up supporting articles on her laptop), and arrived on time. However, upon arrival I found the bag I stowed beneath the bus was soaking wet and several articles of white clothing were severely stained. This literally putting a damper on my trip.
So I sent an email to Bolt Bus customer service politely explaining the problem. While I was mentally preparing my response – replete with threats of Twitter retaliation – to what I assumed would be its refusal of blame, I received a call from Austin, a Bolt Bus customer service rep. Because his email to me bounced back, he called right away to cordially tell me to send him the bill for my drycleaning. When I did, he bettered the offer by letting me choose either two free round trip tickets valued at $100 or having my bill paid. I’m no dummy, I chose the tickets.
Social media has put power into the hands of the consumer. Every action or inaction today can be turned into a public issue that can permanently damage or conversely, enhance the reputation of a company. People are using search engines to review services and products. Bolt Bus has realized that your customers can be your biggest advocates or your biggest foes, depending on how you treat them.
For example, I’m blogging about them right now and, I even posted a positive message on my Facebook page. This company really gets it when it comes to the importance of customer service on reputation in the digitial age. Props to Bolt Bus.