I was frustrated.
My bus into NYC had been delayed. My sprint into Penn Station to catch the Acela to Boston was late by just a couple minutes. Now, I had to wait around for the next train (a slower regional)—and it was late.
As Inigo Montoya says in the movie "Princess Bride," "I hate waiting."
After finally getting settled onto the train with a bunch of computer work accompanying me, I discovered that the Wi-Fi service was spotty. (Yes, it actually is cool that there is Wi-Fi at all on Amtrak's trains. And, yes, I'm spoiled). And did I mention that we were moving quite slowly?
So, being frustrated, I put out a somewhat snarky tweet, which led to a very rapid exchange with Amtrak over Twitter.
Note that Amtrak is very purposefully listening (via the Radian6 platform). The first reply showed up in three minutes! The fact that Amtrak's response was calm and reasonable entirely defused the situation.
But the conversation didn't stop there. Here's the amusing exchange on the way back from Boston.
I like train travel, actually. And now, I like it more—because Amtrak let me know that I'm not just some faceless passenger in an aluminum tube.
The lessons are simple, and they should be applied by any business using social media to connect with customers.
1. Listen relentlessly. I was shocked that this "old-school" business was so attentive to the pulse of social media.
2. Reply immediately. Not only will you impress the daylights out of customers, you'll also defuse tension and often turn it into a positive.
3. Have a human voice. I love the fact that whoever was monitoring the Amtrak Twitter account was not at all above shilling for a raise!
Social media doesn't fix everything. But, used well, it sure can soothe feathers and create fans!