While social media is a powerful tool to reach your target audience at lesser costs, it also harbours a dark side where things can balloon out of proportion very quickly.
An appropriate recent example would involve Airtel, where a customer posted a complaint on Twitter and received a response from Shoaib, an Airtel service representative. The customer then made a discriminatory remark on how he would want a Hindu to answer his query, which was received by another service representative named Gaganjot who, as per protocol, went on to respond to the customer.
This change in the representative was seen as a sign that Airtel had accepted the outlandish request. Screenshots of this exchange went viral and created a PR nightmare for the company.
The company then released an official statement on Twitter in reponse to the outrage.
Interestingly, the statement did not contain an apology.
The company sought to shift the focus to its customer-centricity and processes, by highlighting that the service request was automatically transferred from one representative to the next. When Shoaib was busy with another service request, the customer’s discriminatory request was transferred to the next available representative (Gaganjot).
What did they do right?
They took their time to respond. Instead of a half-baked response early on, the team took time to come up with a logical statement.
The statement was strongly worded, which helped get across the message to the customers instead of sounding like a high flying PR speech
The company didn’t apologise.
The biggest takeaway from the statement was how the company stressed upon its values, and highlighted that it has always trained its team to not look at customers through the lens of religion, ethnicity, or caste.