Sorry seems to be the hardest word : A case study of corporate apologies on Twitter

University essay from Stockholms universitet/Engelska institutionen

Abstract: As social media becomes a more important part of people’s everyday lives, it is also becoming a more important part of the corporate market. Due to the complaints received on social media sites, some forms of customer care are being directly, or indirectly, carried out on social media. Part of this customer care is apologizing in response to complaints. The purpose of this case study is therefore to examine the apologies, apology strategies and expressions of regret employed when apologizing in response to customer complaints on Twitter by the two airlines Norwegian Air Shuttle ASA and Air France. The aim of the study is to compare the different forms, and frequencies, of the apologies, apology strategies and expressions of sympathy/regret the companies employ to apologize. This is done through examining tweets from both airlines and looking at the use of certain keywords, as well as through analysis of the tweets in context. The results are then related to image repair theory and politeness theory. The most significant findings show a clear preference for certain Illocutionary Indication Devices, and strategies within each airline. Moreover, there is a clear difference in how the two airlines use Twitter to communicate with their customers, with Air France employing a more cohesive style, than Norwegian.

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