Sometimes I feel as if I’m picking on the same companies all the time. It’s not intentional, I swear. It’s just that some brands seem to find stupid things to do and push corporate behavior standards to a new low. With that disclaimer, let us ruminate over the good folks at Spirit Airlines and their latest genius move:
Florida-based Spirit Airlines, the ultra-low-cost carrier, is taking a different tack. Spirit has instead put a robot in control of its Twitter operation to automatically respond to questions.
“A big social media team costs money, so we put our feed on autopilot to save you cents on every ticket,” the airline explains on its Twitter site.
You can’t make this up. What have we learned about marketing over the last ten years or so? Your list of words might include “conversation”, “listen”, “personalized”, and any number of other terms that are diametrically opposed to a robot. Tweet something to Spirit’s “customer service” account and you get the same automated message as the last guy: a link to a website with FAQ‘s and a list of phone numbers. While I haven’t actually called any of those numbers (since I refuse to set foot on a Spirit flight ever again), one hopes that there is an actual human on the other end. Which raises the obvious question – if you’re paying for CSR’s for one channel (the phone), why not do so for another, more convenient and widely used channel (social media)?
Here is yet another business decisions that’s selfish. Spirit thinks it can save money by not paying someone to work on social, and will allegedly pass those savings on. You believe that? If so, I have oceanfront property in Arizona for you. If a track record shows us anything, this is a brand that will find a way to wring every last penny out of its customers (first to charge baggage fees, first to charge carry-on fees, first to charge to print a ticket, first to charge to pick a seat – shall I go on?). How stupid do they think consumers are?
Put Spirit’s move in this context from today’s Media Post:
Overall, 47% of tweets about the five biggest U.S. carriers (United, American, Delta, Southwest, and JetBlue) were negative, compared to just 20% positive, Crimson Hexagon found. The total volume of tweets mentioning these airlines has increased 209% since January 2012.
Is that a channel you want to ignore as an airline (or any other brand)? Is the message “talk to the hand because the ears ain’t listening” really how any brand wants to be perceived? Robots? I think not. You?