Should Scoot have trained its front line staff on social media etiquette?

Recently Scoot was called out on the fact that its flight from Singapore to Perth was delayed for over 21 hours due to technical issues. Passengers flared up at the delay and took to social media to vent their frustration. This resulted in a public apology online by CEO Campbell Wilson.

While there is no doubt the apology online was a good move by the brand with social media being a strong point of interaction for Scoot, what several consumers pointed fingers at on its Facebook page was an article where a stewardess was quoted saying that Singaporeans only knew how to complain.

According to an article and screen grabs on the online site, All Singapore Stuff, the stewardess took to her own Facebook page to say that being a budget airline, consumers should not want compensation for the delay from Scoot. She added that customers who did think they deserved a compensation should have taken to flying on Scoot's parent airline, Singapore Airlines.

While Marketing was unable to view the actual post, a spokesperson confirmed it was looking into the matter. When Marketing asked if the airline trained its onground staff on social media etiquette, Scoot did not respond at the time of writing.

UPDATE: In a statement to Marketing, a spokesperson from Scoot clarified that Scoot does have a communications policy which includes a social element where all staff are briefed on and asked to comply with.

“There can, be all the policies and training in the world, but the proof of the pudding is whether the desired behaviours are demonstrated in times of stress.  Sadly, in this case that didn’t happen.  We pride ourselves on our operational excellence but the past weekend was exceptional with two significant delays which obviously impacted our guests and staff alike,” said the spokesperson.

He also added that apart from the case in point, Scoot has been running for over three years now with a rapidly growing workforce now numbering over 500, and has never had a similar issue or incident.

“No company is perfect but we believe our approach in terms policies and training is sufficient but we will continue to learn and optimise as we move forward. As for our handling of the matter, Scoot’s priority was with the fallout of the delays including the guests impacted as it should be,” he said.

The spokesperson added that the company does not share the same views as those expressed in the stewardesses postings but "recognises that the crew member made an error of judgement."

"This is something to learn from - What better case study for our staff on the potential impact of personal postings having an adverse impact on their employer,” he added.

Brand impact?

Preetham Venkky, head of digital strategy & business at KRDS said that while in the long term this will probably not have an impact on Scoot's image, in the short term it would. He added that the brand needs to train all staff members across the board to have better social media etiquette and rules of engagement on social media.

“Employees are your best brand ambassadors​. How they behave both offline and more specifically online reflects the brand immensely. Any service oriented brand should definitely conduct twice a year or yearly workshops on how to communicate on social media,” said Venkky.

Particularly in this instance, Venkky advices that the stewardess should be asked to apologies and take back her comments and ensure that the Scoot community members (fans, followers etc.) are aware of House Rules as well.

Wesley Gunter, PR director of Right Hook Communications added that the incident will definitely impact Scoot as the public will see the brand as not having a clear social media strategy and a designated team to deal with crisis management.

"Scoot should firstly apologise for their flight attendant’s outburst on social media and state clearly that her opinions are personal and do not represent the company’s views. Front line staff, in my opinion, should avoid giving personal opinions about the company unless its positive to avoid any miscommunication," he added.

This is not the first time a brand has had to face the heat for one of its employees taking to social media to share their personal views. In 2012, NTUC had to let go of Amy Cheong who was assistant director, membership department because of racially insensitive comments she made on her personal Facebook page.

Social media experts had then commented that on social media platforms, the line between personal employee pages and the official company run pages have become blurred.

According to Andy Oliver, senior vice president (APAC), Lewis PR it is “critical” for organisations to put social media policies in place and clearly communicate them to the staff.

“Social media training for all employees is an investment that companies need to make at an early stage,” he said.