Airline Twitter Responsiveness: Who earned the Eldorado and the Steak Knives


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“We’ll take the steak knives” tweeted JetBlue airlines in response to my inquiry. On Friday, July 25th at precisely 8:44am I invited all the major U.S. airlines into animpromptu Twitter response time contest. It went like this…

We live in a world of the instantaneous. We have instantaneous access to movies, music, and pictures. We have access to real-time-anywhere audio and video contact with friends and family. From groceries to fast food, there is shorter latency between clicking “buy” and having it delivered to your door.

We have also come to expect instant responses to our concerns and inquiries. World-class customer-first organizations across the globe are spooling up their capability to meet this expectation. Some organizations go above and beyond, starting to anticipate rather than react to customers’ needs and wants.

If your organization is not getting back to your customers quickly (or not at all), you are creating a wake of dissatisfied customers who are likely propagating their disdain through social networks. Twitter is now the channel de jure to communicate with customers in real time.

Back in 2011, we found that only 29% of companies responded to a customer complaint via Twitter. Things have changed. Now, not only do 70% of customers expect a response from companies, we found in our recent study that 44%of Americans expect a response from companies within minutes.

I fly often. As I result I have a rather intimate love-hate relationship with the industry. To be fair, the airline industry is pretty much in operation 24/7/365. They have a demanding job shuttling people around the globe, both for routine travel and for important, once-in-a-lifetime events such as births, marriages, and funerals. People often do not have the option to walk or drive, so their options are limited, and emotions can run high if problems arise.

All these factors make the task of reassuring and talking with customers extremely important. Therefore, I thought this was an ideal test industry to see who would respond the quickest to a tweet from a customer.

In the classic movie Glengarry Glen Ross, actor Alec Baldwin announces a new sales contest to some veteran salesmen in which the first place winner would win a Cadillac Eldorado. The second place winner would win a set of steak knives. The reward for third place was a Trumpian “you’re fired.” I decided I would find who in the airline industry would respond the quickest and win the Eldo, steak knives…and well…you know.

So after I tweeted my challenge, who responded first? About one minute later after mytweet I got this reply.

I can’t say I was terribly surprised. Alaska Airlines has long been known for its customer handling and responsiveness. The fact that they won bragging rights doesn’t surprise me. One minute is pretty impressive though.

What came next, however, was a pleasant surprise.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Dave Fish, Ph.D.

Dave is the founder of CuriosityCX, an insights and advisory consultancy for Customer Experience. Formerly he was CMO for MaritzCX, now an InMoment company. He has 25+ years of applied experience in understanding consumer behavior consulting with Global 50 companies. Dave has held several executive positions at the Mars Agency, Engine Group, J.D. Power and Associates, Toyota Motor North America, and American Savings Bank. He teaches at the Sam Walton School of Business at the University of Arkansas. He is the author of "The Customer Experience Field Guide" available on Amazon and


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