No one likes a crisis.

Companies don’t like them, consumers don’t like them, and the market doesn’t like them. Okay, maybe crisis communications consultants like them in some twisted way.

Companies may suffer a crisis at some point, whether it is a self-inflicted one or one that external forces cause. Case in point: The service at American Airlines has been flagging for years. As seen in the below total mentions chart, in early March there were three separate incidents that combined to create a wave of bad news and public outcry.

–First, on March 3rd a flight attendant reported a fire on a flight from Dallas to Detroit. Upon investigation the NTSB discovered that the flight attendant himself had lit the fire.

–Then on March 7th,  American Airlines pilots sent a letter to the company outlining an “embarrassing” product and “a toxic culture.” The pilots stated that they were tired of apologizing to customers.

–And then to top it all off, on March 8th, American Airlines decided to cancel its flights to Venezuela after only having reinstituted them 3 months prior. This left a lot of customers high and dry.

When you look at all of these issues together, they are all internally caused. Each taken separately is a problem or issue, but when you juxtapose all three – an employee misbehaving and endangering customer lives, a questionable business decision, and a culture that has outraged it’s most critical employees on the front line – you begin to see that there is a broader issue here with the company’s management and operations.

A look at the Emoji Cloud gives us a fair indication of just how tattered American Airlines’ reputation is and how outraged the public are:

The Roman philosopher Seneca once wrote: “If you would not have a man flinch when the crisis comes, train him before it comes.”

A quick analysis of repeated words or even geographical concentrations of issues can uncover a customer service issue that deserves immediate attention. Similarly, if a company can track repeated complaints over a longer period of time, it might indicate that there’s a business issue that needs addressing, such as more supply, improved equipment or even training.

Today’s executives and communications professionals have the ability to discover, track and analyze the media stories and online conversations resulting from issues crises before they spin out of control. You have to wonder whether or not American Airlines took advantage of these efficiencies to monitor conversations, keywords, or even emojis that could have given them an indication that something was wrong with their business. Of course, if the culture is as toxic as the pilots indicate that it is, odds are you have a company that doesn’t realize the way that is making customers feel – or worse one that doesn’t care. Let us hope that is not the case.

The only thing that airline companies have to differentiate themselves from each other is customer service. Those that make it a priority and are committed to listening, engaging, responding, and daily leveraging insights to help fix their business will be successful.