American Airlines Loses Cat and Customer Loyalty
Customer loyalty and social media make for an interesting combination. On August 25, 2011, Karen Pascoe packed up and headed for New York's JFK airport with her two feline best friends and pets, Jack the Cat and brother Barry. Shortly after clearing security, Pascoe was informed by an American Airlines (AA) employee that Jack was missing.
After a brief search and still no Jack, she was reassured by the airline that they would find her beloved pet and return him unharmed and by the next day, as is their policy for misplaced luggage.
Sixty-six hours passed without any correspondence from the airline and Pascoe began to worry. A baggage manager informed her that the search was still ongoing; however, when a similar event occurred in the past, it took over a month to find the furry feline.
A distraught animal lover, Pascoe quickly took to Facebook, creating the group Jack the cat is lost in AA baggage at JFK, which quickly gained over 11,000 likes. A flood of angry messages arrived on the Facebook page urging the airline to find Jack.
There is also a #findjackthecat hashtag on Twitter. People have also been tweeting negatively to American Airlines.
“@AmericanAir Guess I won’t be flying with you anytime soon. Not unless I want to spend FOUR DAYS lost, scared & alone”
Knowing the powerful effect of negative social media, American Airlines quickly began tweeting and posting their efforts to find the animal.
“Our JFK employees are using a variety of methods to try to find Jack, including setting cans of cat food by his kennel,” American Airlines spokesman Ed Martelle told msnbc.com. “Additionally, we are working with the Mayor’s Alliance for New York City to assist in providing humane animal traps … We offer our sincere regrets for this incident and are doing everything possible to locate him"
Jack has yet to be found.
With the sudden increase in the power of social media in recent years, AA would be wise to continue communicating with the public about their efforts. There are a lot of animal lovers out there whose customer loyalty to the company may be diminished. See a recent story on how Mortons used social media to provide outstanding customer service.
The number one factor in maintaining customer loyalty is communication. Although AA have now created a search plan, the 66 hours of no contact could easily tarnish their reputation. For more on building extreme customer loyalty, download our whitepaper.