There’s still a lot of talk in the press and social media about the Ann Coulter “Twitter rant” that started a few days ago and continued through yesterday. Who knows, the war of words may continue today.
Lots of opinions, some supporting Ann, others Delta, have been expressed.
The source piece for this post discusses a company’s optimal strategy in dealing with customer issues. It finds that Delta made a mistake in picking a fight with Ann.
Airlines are often targets of angry tweets from passengers, but like most major brands they typically tread carefully with their responses to complaints on social media.
By shutting down a polarizing figure like conservative commentator Ann Coulter, Delta Air Lines’ response became a political statement, whether that was the intention or not. The airline pushed back at Coulter after she berated it Saturday on Twitter over getting her seat changed.
Coulter began tweeting about the episode Saturday in which she said the airline gave away an “extra room seat” she reserved before a flight from New York to Florida departed. Coulter had booked an aisle seat, but got a window seat.
“Any back and forth with a customer, particularly a political commentator like this, is going to be viewed through a political lens.” said Tanya Meck, the executive vice president of Global Strategies Group, which specializes in strategic communications.
The company’s original tweet has been liked and shared more than 150,000 times, but people are responding in defense of both Coulter and the airline.
Delta offered Coulter a refund, but also hit back at her criticisms on Twitter saying, “Your insults about our other customers and employees are unacceptable and unnecessary.“
The airline later put out a statement explaining the confusion that lead to Coulter being moved from her reserved seat, and restating their disappointment with Coulter’s comments:
“We are sorry that the customer did not receive the seat she reserved and paid for. More importantly, we are disappointed that the customer has chosen to publicly attack our employees and other customers by posting derogatory and slanderous comments and photos in social media. Her actions are unnecessary and unacceptable.
Just two days earlier, rapper ScHoolboy Q accused United Airlines of putting his dog on the wrong flight, and United’s response was much more conventional:
When customers tweet their complaints at most companies, chances are they will get an apology and a request for more information — unless of course they’re tweeting at Wendy’s, in which case they’ll get roasted.
Chains like Wendy’s and Denny’s have mastered building relationships and responding to customers, even complaints, in a lighthearted way. Smirnoff and Reebok have both taken the opportunity to poke fun at the Trump administration, much to the delight of social media.
Delta’s clapback, however, was met with a mixed response.
“Our response is not that much different than a few days before on another attack,” Delta spokesman Anthony Black said in an email, referencing Delta’s response to comments made by Qatar CEO Akbar Al Baker’s.
Such a strong condemnation could be viewed as “attacking her and her views simultaneously,” according to Daniel Korschun, an associate professor of marketing at Drexel University in Philadelphia. These views are likely shared by many of their customers.
“I think they may have overreacted,” he said. “Generally it is in the company’s best interest to treat all customers the same.”
Korschun said he believes companies can and should be transparent about their political leanings, and that doing so can be great marketing technique. His research shows that customers expect companies that prioritize their core values to take a stand on important issues.
The jury is still out on what Delta’s response will mean for its image. Meck says that while unpopular stances may incite social media backlash, it doesn’t often affect a company’s bottom line.
“Americans expect companies to take a stance or respond to an issue or current event, even if the issue is perceived as political — as long as the company explains it motivation,” Meck said. “In these respects, Delta passed with flying colors.”
I have no doubt that Delta pushed Ann around (or tried to anyway) because she’s white, blonde, and an effective spokesperson for conservative politics.
Take a look at this Delta Tweet and understand that the company is a cesspool of “progressive” thinking:
I’ve said from the beginning that I thought Delta’s dirty tricks were coming out of the faggot agenda. I’ve seen nothing to change my mind.
Ann, always colorful in her word choice really gave me a laugh when she described the female passenger given her seat with extra leg room as being dachshund-legged.
Haha. That woman doesn’t look white to me, so there may be some racial animosity at play, as well as political correctness. Ann claims she was an immigrant.
In any case, this little guy wouldn’t need the extra leg room: