Turning to Tech When Tech Fails: How Delta Airlines Can Use Facebook LIVE to Communicate with its Customers During a Power Outage Crisis

Yesterday was not fun for the Delta Airlines Corporation. Unfortunately, they experienced a similar situation to what Southwest Airlines went through about three weeks ago, but on a larger scale(we are talking global). According to the Wall Street Journal, the power outage that occurred in the electrical systems of Delta were due to “antiquated technology that has plagued many airlines.” As a result, at 3:40 PM EST only 2,340 flights were executed out of 6,000 scheduled flights!

We can only imagine the customer service nightmare in several airports across the globe, but let’s not forget the backlash on social media. On average, the Delta Airlines Twitter account is involved in 3,600 conversations, but on Monday morning it scaled to 43,000. CNN Money states that passengers tweeted problems “including the inability to check in or being stuck on the tarmac — from airports around the world, including San Francisco, Rome and Athens.”

As soon as I heard about this, I quickly went to Delta’s Facebook fan page and literally prayed that video content was being published to address this major problem. I was somewhat relieved that a short video from the CEO, Ed Bastian, was published addressing the cause of this global havoc. However, I was greatly disappointed that Facebook LIVE video was not used to address customers, their concerns, and provide in-depth details on updates of flights, secondary avenues, refunds, etc. There has only been ONE video (scratch that, a second one has just been published) posted to their page since yesterday, but they have updated customers through written posts and article links. This is a major opportunity that Delta Airlines is missing out on and I encourage that the marketing team lift up their heads from this mess and look at what Southwest Airlines did to help alleviate the stress from a power outage.

Why you may ask? Let me show you…

Instead of doing this:

Written Article just published to Delta Airlines’ Facebook Fan Page

Do this:

Facebook LIVE Video published to Southwest Airlines’ Facebook Fan Page

And you will receive more comments like this:

Now I’m not saying that Delta Airlines are not receiving comments such as these, but I want to address this gap that is missing from their customer service online and on social media.

Southwest Airlines’ power outage occurred in July and they posted three Facebook LIVE videos to address customers complaints and provide updates.

Here is a breakdown:

Video 1 received 1,315 likes and 193,761 views. Customers were introduced to Southwest Airlines’ Chief Communications Officer where she apologized about the inconvenience and was up front about expecting additional delays/cancellations the following morning.

Video 1 introduces Chief Communications Officer

The ending of the video stood out to me the most because it showed that Southwest was keeping track of the comments mentioned on Twitter and it let me know that they are listening to its customers. Boom!

Southwest Airlines is listening to you during the power outage

Video 2 received 5,602 likes and 823,847 views. Whoa! A huge spike here and this is why: Customers were introduced and had face time with the Chief Operating Officer directly! He apologized and shared the current state of affairs of Southwest Airlines’ operations. In addition, information was shared about rebooking, refunds, the amount of cancellations for the day, etc.

Most importantly, questions were addressed that were expressed online.

Video 2 Introduces Chief Operating Officer

A few things stood out to me during this video:

  1. The title included “Our Chief Operating Officer”.
  2. The video was conducted as an interview where the camera would go back and forth to establish a focus on the interviewer as he asked questions and on the COO when he answered them.
  3. Captions were created and uploaded to the video.

Video 3 received 468 likes and 36,927 views. Customers were introduced to the Network Operations Control team and were given a mini tour of what it looks like. An explanation was given of what the Southwest Airlines Network is, the reasons for recent cancellations, and how the recovery plan is being implemented to get things back on track. Here we see a trickled down effect on this video with the stats and there are many factors that contribute to this, but the key here is that Southwest Airlines wanted to be up front and keep their customers updated. Simply put, there is no better way to do so than through LIVE video.

This is what stood out in the video:

  1. A mini tour was provided of the Network Operations Control Room.
  2. Once again the video was conducted as an interview where the camera would go back and forth to establish a focus on the interviewer as he asked questions and on the interviewee when he answered them.
  3. Questions that were asked LIVE were addressed.

These are a few examples of how Delta Airlines can use a similar approach to attack this power outage head on and be direct with customers. Outside of interviews, Delta Airlines can allocate specific time for Q&As, breaking news, behind the scenes of their control or communications room, updates on cancellations or delays, fares sales, refunds, and the list goes on.

Going live on Facebook is all about connecting to customers on a much deeper and personal level. It literally tears down the wall between the customer and seeing who is behind a company or brand. It is now the end of Day 2 of the power outage recovery and I really hope that Delta Airlines takes matters into their own hands even more by including live video into their communications strategy.

UPDATE: Delta Experience Another Power Outage in January 2017. Read Part II here.