The travel chaos caused by the failure of Eurostar’s trains this weekend has highlighted a major corporate failing with regard to social media.
Eurostar is one of a growing number of big companies which understands the value of social networking sites as a marketing channel. It has a presence on Twitter, which it uses to tweet special offers and update information.
But where was it on Friday, when thousands of passengers were stuck in tunnels for hours? It was passengers who were tweeting furiously to explain their predicament, beg for information and rage against the company that had so spectacularly let them down.
As BusinessZone.co.uk editor Dan Martin points out, Eurostar was absent. A PR crisis management plan that made full use of social media should have sprung into action, but it did not respond for 48 hours. Only subsequently did it start using its Twitter feed to provide updates, and its CEO Richard Brown went on YouTube to apologise.
“The biggest lesson is that customers don’t know (or care about) the difference between marketing and customer service feeds. All they want is answers and the company needs to provide them. The prevalence of mobile phones and other devices means that the power is in the hands of the customer and they can provide instant feedback no matter where they are.”