This is the story marketers should use as a case study.
For the entire story, which has already been told quite well, check out these posts:
‚?Ę Alex Rudloff‚??s, ‚??Do not fly Spirit Airlines‚?Ě
‚?Ę Alex Rudloff‚??s, ‚??Ben Baldanza from Spirit Encourages Awful Customer Service…‚?Ě
‚?Ę Mack Collier‚??s, ‚??Another ‘ignore bloggers, this is what you get’ cautionary tale for companies.‚?Ě
In short: Alex had a terrible experience with Spirit Airlines and wrote about it. It generated huge response in comments and posts from other bloggers. His original post, ‚??Do not fly Spirit Airlines‚?Ě is now ranked third when you Google, ‚??Spirit Airlines‚?Ě.
Next up came Alex‚??s post about a couple that missed a concert in Atlanta because their flight from Orlando was very late. The concert was the only reason for their trip. The couple penned an email to the airline and, in classic style, the CEO of Spirit hit ‚??reply all‚?Ě instead of just replying to the other employees copied on the email. Here‚??s what he had to say:
“Please respond, Pasquale, but we owe him nothing as far as I’m concerned. Let him tell the world how bad we are. He’s never flown us before anyway and will be back when we save him a penny.”
And that‚??s when things exploded ‚?? different sites and news outlets picked up the story, the airline responded with a second P.R. nightmare about NEVER responding to bloggers. The bad vibes continue on.
So where should Spirit go from here? For one, they should start listening + monitoring. If they had been, there‚??s a good chance this all would never have happened in the first place. Imagine how powerful a comment from a Spirit employee would have been on Alex‚??s original post. A sincere, honest comment in an effort to reach out to Alex and those leaving comments on his ‚??Do not fly…‚?Ě post may have started to turn the tide. Continued follow-up could have also helped.
What now? I like this suggestion from my buddy Duncan, which we talked about over lunch the other day (paraphrasing): ‚??They should set up a site, call it thenewspiritairlines.com and start an intelligent conversation.‚?Ě
In short: invite feedback, let their real efforts to correct these problems be known and try to stem the tide. Or, as Mike Moran would put it, this is their chance to ‚??Do it wrong quickly‚?Ě, see what works, what doesn‚??t, adjust and get it right.
If Dell could come out of Dell Hell ‚?? many months later ‚?? Spirit can do the same. They‚??ve just got to start trying.
UPDATE: Robert Gorell writes about a crazy experience he had with Spirit Airlines. A must read.