How-to Guide

7 Ways to Improve Your Airline Brand’s Customer Experience on Social

“We’re a Customer Service Company that just happens to also fly airplanes, Erin.” – Southwest Airlines Customer Care Agent response to a happy customer

Honeymooners on their way to a picturesque destination. Families reuniting with their loved ones. Children taking their very first flights. The travel industry is perfect for telling compelling stories like these through visuals. This doesn’t mean posting the equivalent of digital travel brochures to improve your airline customer experience. Today’s customers are looking to develop more personal connections through social media and for a better digital customer experience as a whole. In fact, 1:1 conversations account for over two-thirds of all daily social activity. But very few brands are engaging deeply with their customers across channels, instead relying on random one-off posts to broadcast their messages. With these seven tips, you can drive customer loyalty with your brand by building deeper relationships with customers.

Today’s customers are looking to develop more personal connections through social media and for a better digital customer experience as a whole.

1. Take a passenger-first approach.1

Stop focusing on yourself, and focus on your customers instead.

2. Get to know your target audiences.

Personalization comes with insight and awareness of your customers' likes and dislikes, needs and desires. Inflight internet company Gogo recommends leveraging customer insights gleaned from social interactions to have fun with customers. For example, when an in-flight customer vented, “On a @Gogo connection so slow, it can’t support Morse Code,” a member of the social care team responded by tweeting “... --- .-. .-. -.--” which is “sorry” in Morse code. The customer’s response? “That’s awesome! Thanks for your sense of humor.”2

3. Listen, then talk.

Customers expect to be served in their digital channel of choice, often in real time. Monitor all brand conversations across social channels, not just when your brand’s handle is used. When global traveler Lars Silberbauer tagged his departure and arrival airports mentioning that his Samsonite luggage was destroyed, he was very impressed that Samsonite joined in on the conversation offering to help. “By doing that they have definitely made sure that I will remain a loyal customer for the next many years,” said Silberbauer.3

4. Engage in a variety of ways.

Ask questions, post polls, host contests, and provide interactive content. Copenhagen Airport is on the cutting edge of customer engagement with its augmented location-based reality app. The app is designed to help users navigate its terminals and was one of the world’s first indoor AR applications.4

5. Drive smart decisions through data.

Harness the power of customer data by putting it in the hands of the right people, at the right moment, at every touchpoint.5 One of the best applications for effectively using data is to provide customized deals that are targeted and relevant to each customer. KLM takes data-driven offers one step further by putting social data back in the hands of their passengers. In an attempt to make the friendly skies even friendlier, KLM’s Meet & Seat program lets travelers opt “to pick who they sit next to based on details from their Facebook, LinkedIn or Google+ profiles after they purchase a ticket.”6

6. Embrace video.

Rather than only investing in big-budget productions, create bite-sized videos that speak specifically to a custom audience.7 Videos are also an innovative and effective approach to humanizing your brand during a crisis.

7. Leverage the power of the crowd.

Drive questions to an online community or self-service knowledge base. At London Gatwick, screens within the terminals display the airport’s live Twitter feed. Being in full public view means that, in addition to airport customer service agents, passengers and guests answer one another’s tweets.8 With peer-to-peer support, your customers will gain knowledge and insight while getting advice from those they trust most–other customers. As an added bonus, this type of support is the most affordable way to satisfy customer inquiries.

The Bottom Line:

Customers are loyal to experiences, not brands. Creating an awesome end-to-end digital customer experience with a passenger-first approach is a proven tactic to building and fostering sustainable relationships. For more on how the best airlines give their customers the best possible experience on social, download The Social Media Technology Checklist for Airlines.

1 The Wall Street Journal - "Airline CX: Creating Emotional Connections to Drive Brand Loyalty"

2 APEX - "Gogo Shares How it Uses Social Media to Provide Customer Care Services"

3 Lars Silberbauer - "How to do (and not to do) Airport Customer Service on Social Media"

4 LinkedIn - "Top 10 Social Media Initiatives by Airports"

5 The Wall Street Journal - "Airline CX: Creating Emotional Connections to Drive Brand Loyalty"

6 Mashable - "Social Seating Can Lead to Business Opportunities on Dutch Airline"

7 Inc. - "Why Video Will Be King in 2016"

8 SimpliFlying - "[Case Study] How Social Media Is Enhancing Airport Customer Service"

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