Smart companies realize that how they deal with problems, issues or mistakes can have more impact on business than even the best Marketing campaign. Especially in the current world of instantaneous consumer feedback and sharing/spreading of news via Social Media, good or bad customer service can make or break a brand. Just ask Toyota, for doing it the wrong way, or Tylenol, who recently got it right. In fact, handling problems well has been shown to actually increase consumer loyalty.
A recent online mistake from a major airline shows how a bad situation can be turned into a positive.
El Al, the national airline of Israel, posted their winter fairs online. A third party who posted for them made a mistake, and for 3 hours, normally $1,500+ round trip fares from NY to Israel were available for $400. The word got out, and before El Al could act, more than 5,000 tickets were booked.
So what to do? Cancel the tickets and blame the 3rd party? Honor the tickets and take a bath? Neither! El Al made some cold lemonade out of their pile of lemons.
First they decided to honor the tickets. They spread the word, including on their Facebook page and local press. Customer satisfaction, with other, less expensive airlines biting at their heels, is more important than ever for El Al. And then the brilliant kicker. Since many of the flights were booked through Europe with stopovers, El Al offered all the affected passengers the ability to upgrade to direct flights for only $75 each way. To the customers, it made it an even better experience. To El Al, there was a hidden financial benefit by switching to direct flights – more revenue and less shared revenue with their partners.
And at the end of the day, not only were the customers happy, but also their reputation of caring for their customers was enhanced AND they did so profitably.