By Adam Fraser
As you would expect, I am constantly looking at how global enterprises are using social media across their business to identify and understand best practice.
I had heard titbits about Dutch airline KLM but this great interview between Jay Baer and their head of social Karlijn Vogel-Meyer put some real meat on the bone.
KLM are doing some truly outstanding work in this space. Let’s start with the foundations – they offer 24/7 service on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn in 14 languages. Let me say that again – 24/7 service on 3 social platforms in 14 languages.
No 9-5pm. People don’t just fly in the “working day” and KLM have worked that out. 24 hours a day. 7 days a week. Businesses everywhere claim to be “customer-centric”. It’s easy to say. KLM’s actions represent a true commitment to the customer’s needs and true commitment to a medium. Customer first by action and business process, not just by “mission statement platitude”. And this commitment is backed by investment in serious manpower – their social team numbers 150. Scaling the unscalable – one to one human contact.
Did I mention KLM’s target is to respond to all Facebook and Twitter communications within an hour? Impressive. This level of service encourages a customer to continually use these platforms – success breeds success and confidence in a medium. KLM now get over 60,000 mentions per week on social.
Whilst all of the above is impressive on its own, what is truly distinct is the way KLM have built core business processes around social media platforms. This isn’t fluffy discussions with people saying they loved the meals on the flight. Or – heaven forbid – joining conversations about the Oscars or Game of Thrones. This is real business requirements. Customers can manage the following activities via social with KLM:
- Upgrading a ticket
- Checking in
- Choosing a seat
- Ordering an a la carte meal
- Arranging extra baggage
- Lost and found items left on a plane
- (Plus any other general queries)
This isn’t icing on the cake, this is the cake itself. How useful and convenient is this for a customer? Sure phone and email are also available but if you want to connect via social in a meaningful, instantaneous and transactional way then KLM have facilitated this.
In addition, social is used for other useful services such as checking flight times or for a flight number and planning a group trip.
KLM are also using social to drive direct selling in a very smart, unobtrusive way. Customers can request best fare offers via Twitter – this is the ultimate in targeting as the offers match your precise flying requirements. Facebook is also used in a more outbound manner – to great effect – to target offers at precisely the people who would be interested in them.
Last year KLM attributed Euro25m worth of last click sales to social. That’s the direct final click before a sale came from social. Impressive numbers on their own. The true impact of their social efforts would no doubt be broader based on customers buying via another channel having touched social on their buyers journey.
KLM’s overall social strategy is both savvy and authentic. Not afraid to make mistakes, or fess up when they get things wrong, KLM also push boundaries by trying new things, such as their #Happytohelp campaign – where for one week they offered to help any airline passengers, even if they weren’t flying KLM. A YouTube video promoting their lost and found service featuring Sherlock the dog went viral and has had over 19m views.
But ultimately it comes back to customer service. I have written previously that a brand’s use of social should start with listening, and answering questions that their customer have. KLM live and breathe this philosophy.
As Karlijn says “We believe that social service is the basis of everything we do on social media”. A wise approach. All communications are integrated into KLM’s CRM system. Also smart.
KLM are doing serious business on social media. And they are doing it seriously well.