Title of Post: How Mother Nature Forced KLM Into Social Media
Organization Name: KLM Royal Dutch Airlines
As social media channels started gaining popularity, KLM began looking into how the technology could be used in their business. They were experimenting with different strategies and techniques, then, in April 2010, a volcanic eruption changed everything.
Eyjafjallajökull, a volcano located in southern Iceland, began blowing ash into the atmosphere on April 14 prompting the closure of UK airspace from April 15 to 20th. It grounded flights across Europe and stranded passengers for days. This huge service disruption forced KLM’s customers to reach out to the company on social media. Questions about alternate transit, status updates and just about everything else you can imagine, began flooding KLM’s Facebook and Twitter pages.
KLM was faced with a decision, either ignore what was going on online, or use it as a powerful customer service tool. They chose the latter and never looked back. After the planes were back in the sky and the dust settled (literally and figuratively), KLM continued to focus on using social media as a way to connect with and serve their customers.
In an interview on The Social Pros Podcast, Karlijn Vogel-Meijer, Social Media Manager for KLM said “We have Salesforce at the back of all of our channels, so everything that has been posted or Tweeted to us gets loaded into Salesforce and that gives us a really good idea about what our customers are really struggling with and what their problems are. Because in the end, it’s not about giving a nice answer, I mean anybody can do that, in the end it just has to do with the fact that we are an airline and they’re not Tweeting us because they want to say that they are going on holiday, they’re tweeting us because they are having a problem and something was not right.”
KLM began to notice that a lot of its passengers would post about lost articles left behind on their flights. Passengers would be told to follow a procedure that could take days to get a response. Both passengers and the airline knew there had to be a better way to reunite passengers and their lost items. Instead of items being found on a plane and left at a desk, awaiting pick up, the KLM team took a more proactive approach to connecting passengers with lost items using social media.
KLM created a lost and found team at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam that is responsible for reuniting people with their lost items as quickly as possible. Through the power of social networks and mobile devices, the KLM team hits the ground running to get passengers reunited with everything from teddy bears to mobile devices and even dentures.
Lessons for others
Regardless of the size or type of businesses you’re in, there is always a way to leverage social media to engage with customers. Learning who they are, where they are and what they want helps you communicate with them and build meaningful and lasting relationships.
KLM began with a small team that worked 9am to 5pm on their two Facebook pages – one in English and one in Dutch. Now, KLM’s social team has grown to over 150 employees that work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to help handle more than 600,000 mentions on social media every week. They have a global Facebook account with over nine million followers and communicate on social in 14 different languages…and it all began with a single event.
Submitted By: Danielle Bozzo
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