How to leverage twitter for customer service

Twitter today is one of the foremost marketing tools that the service industry around the world is employing to reach out to vast and widespread customer bases. The advent of social media has had a profound impact on service delivery. Instrumental in clearing the channel for two-way brand communication, social media has been central to taking the step forward in providing real time service assistance to the consumer.

The travel industry has taken to the internet like few others. Only rivalled in its employment of social media as an effective service delivery tool by the banking sector, airlines today are pulling out all the stops in providing customer assistance on the dot, over the interwebs.

Probably the best example of such a strategy in motion is American Airlines.

Facing severe crises in recent years – their planes suffered huge maintenance issues, their financial condition is still flimsy & there’s been employee union trouble – American Airlines has been facing the average airline industry troubles. Even then, the company’s social media team shows up where customers are facing a problem, and help them sort it out – all on Twitter.

The airlines’ dedicated, in-house team of fifteen focuses on quickly dealing with customers’ problems or responding to praises and complaints, even breaking it when there is big news – like the redesign last year. The Twitter customer service at American Airlines has now been expanded to include terror threats – dealing with a hoax threat with seriousness & elan a few weeks ago.

The key to unlocking the potential of Twitter for American Airlines has been following a few simple but essential guidelines:

  1. Responding to every consumer giving them the attention they need – whether it is for flight assistance, booking or just regular attendance. American Airlines has a 15 member social media team, with 9 members always attending to customers on social media tools like Twitter, while the others work on messaging & promotion. The team scans for social mentions of the brand 24×7.
  2. Responding early, responding well – the brand team aims at sending out a first response within ten minutes of a customer query or brand mention reported. The tone is always empathetic, with the brand personality on Twitter being genuine, authentic, clear, confident, savvy, empathetic, welcoming, warm, helpful, and knowledgeable.
  3. Creating an on-Twitter support strategy – 85% of queries are resolved on Twitter through a directed manual that the team uses. When resolution online seems difficult, the team advises the customer to call in for support.
  4. “Getting” the medium – the internet is not a serious place all the time and the nature of communication allows for wholesome brand building through social media. Keeping with this, while the policy for non-action tweets is “No reply.”, often, the American Airlines Twitter has joked and good humouredly interacted with customer tweets. Customers appreciate a real, engaging conversation that is usually unexpected.
  5. Learning from the best – other brands in the space, Red Bull, Oreo & Starbucks have been inspirations from which American Airlines has learned. Even though there have been some gaffes, the AA Twitter has come of its own.

Known for quick, empathetic responses to help customers out, the American Airlines Twitter Customer Service is an industry benchmark in itself.

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