August 24th 2011, posted by

Tweet off: British Airways vs. easyJet

What happens to tone of voice on Twitter? Are brands successfully squeezing their personality into their tweets? Or are the constraints of Twitter squeezing the personality out? Every week (or when we get chance) we’ll pick two well-known brands and pit their tweets against each other.

First up: @BritishAirways

Follow this account if you’re in North America. Our global account is @British_Airways please follow for relevant news

Is this the blandest profile on Twitter? There’s certainly no attempt at personality. We’re told to follow news that’s ‘relevant’. A pointless instruction – the tweet equivalent of saying ‘click here’. It sounds like an announcement at an airport, pushing us from one place to the next. I’m waiting to be told my bags haven’t arrived.

Anyway, onto a tweet:

Apologies, Megan, you did not receive the service you expect & deserve. We’d apprec your feedback here:

Using the customer’s name is a nice touch then… BA using abbrs! Never thought I’d see the day. Maybe it’s because this is the North American account. Not sure about ‘apprec’ though. Sounds like they’ve got something stuck in their throat.

Let’s try @British_Airways instead.

Sorry we have no information on ground transport. You could try contacting Toulouse Airport.

Ah, that’s more like it. The British British Airways. No abbreviations. Touch of airport jargon. Passing the buck onto another company.

And another:

Sorry for the problems you have had getting through to us. Unfortunately you will need to speak to someone to discuss your booking.

Why is it unfortunate? Is this ‘someone’ going to be wilfully mean and unhelpful? Actually, don’t answer that.  But hang on. Elsewhere it sounds like a real person talking:

Milly (&Charlie) sorry to hear that. Pleased you can still smile about it

Maybe the tone improves because the message is vaguely positive. Which is the best we can say about BA’s tweets.

Right, @easyJet, can you do any better?

A pinch more personality in the profile and a perky agent – the unfortunately named ^EW – who’s very friendly considering how much she has to say sorry:

Sorry to hear that Mark, hope you will give us another chance in the future.

Sorry for the delay Alicia. Hope you had a nice and smooth flight with us. ^EW

But it’s not all apologies. Every now and then there’s what looks to be – gasp! – a conversation going on. One that’s not even about flying. This tweet looks to be a book recommendation (there’s even a smiley face).

My suggestion is ‘Ivanhoe’ by Scott. I lov this one :)^EW

Lov? ^EW might like books, but I’m not sure she’d make a very good editor – the tweets are riddled with typos:

Sorry you couldn’t get hold on our Spanish Team. Is there anything I can help you with? ^EW

Ooh that slippery Spanish team.

Elsewhere there’s a bit of a mixed personality. It’s formal one minute and informal the next (plus another typo):

Great you had fun with us 🙂 you would like to have a photo in captain & cabin outfits? ^EW

You might get away with this on email or over the phone, because you can adapt your tone to the person you’re talking to and the interaction stays between two people. But on Twitter the inconsistencies are there for all to see. Of the two, the informal tone is definitely closer to easyJet’s brand.

And the winner is… easyJet 🙂

BA’s tweets conjured up an image of an alabaster-faced air stewardess: bland, high-handed and a bit stiff. easyJet’s tweets are much more personal. Particularly noticeable were the conversations the advisor struck up with customers. And that only happens when you’re friendly.

Well done easyJet. Just remember to proof before you tweet.

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