On a busy October day, Graham Currie found himself at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport, facing a long wait in between flights. Fiddling around on his phone and killing time on social networks, he decided to lament about his condition on Twitter.
“Sitting in Amsterdam Schiphol airport. Flights not till 6.50. Just 2 1/2 hours to go :(“, he tweeted and then got back to some more fiddling with his phone, interspersed with looking around at people passing by while the sense of boredom only heightened.
Within a few minutes though, he was approached by strangers who politely asked him to confirm his name and seemed to know that he had a few hours to wait before his next flight. On their request, he followed them to a busy looking room at a prominent area of the airport, and there he was greeted by a largish crew that seemed to belong to the airlines – KLM.
What followed for Graham was an intense session of playing FIFA against some young KLM employees, with the gaming console plugged into a giant screen. And while Graham didn’t do too well at the game itself, getting entertained by total strangers till it was time to board his flight may have made him believe in the existence of Santa Claus all over again.
In fact, Graham was not the only one left believing in Santa that week. Across the globe, many travellers facing different issues while travelling received help from unexpected quarters as they benefitted from KLM’s special #HappyToHelp campaign.
The #HappyToHelp campaign was the result of months of preparation and planning that was initiated after KLM’s leadership identified the airlines’ customer service excellence as the focus of marketing programs for the season.
For six months, a team tracked twitter and culled out tweets which were about people mentioning the problems they were facing in the process of travelling by air. Analysts identified hundreds of keywords and a set of standard problems that customers were not only facing, but were actively talking about on social networks.
After having spent months understanding consumer pain points, KLM rolled out the week long #HappyToHelp campaign, with the intention of helping travellers – especially those not flying by KLM, through social media and in other unexpected ways.
A command centre was set up at Schiphol airport which was manned through the day by a team of customer service experts and where giant screens tracked tweets about travel issues, from people all over the world.
The team set out to help each person who was tweeting. A large part of the campaign was all about ensuring personalized responses to people on twitter, helping them with information or advice as needed. Other cases however, were handled in a way that went beyond any customer’s expectations.
In addition to helping passengers kill time by playing video games, KLM staff set up comfortable mattresses and beds for tired passengers sleeping uncomfortably in airport lounges. They supplied coffee to passengers trying to stay awake, made wake up calls to people who had early morning flights to catch, returned items lost on flights, connected passengers with their favourite celebrities to help take their minds off travel woes, sung lullabies to them so that they could fall asleep in time to be well rested before next day’s flight, sent cabs to retrieve forgotten passports and even helped a stranded passenger reach the New York airport in time by giving him a ride on a speed boat on the Hudson river.
Not too many years ago, organizations were making their first forays into social media with the intention of being perceived as innovative, without perhaps really expecting the channel to be a game changer.
Within a few years, we are at a stage where social media has been integrated into organizational existence across functions. What that means is that whether it is sales and marketing, human resources, customer care or product management – each major organizational function is working hard to ensure that their strategy as well as execution is influenced significantly and positively by social media.
The KLM #HappyToHelp example illustrates how organizational goals are reached in the present day.
Once the campaign objective was defined, the team responsible from concept to closure was embedded with experts in social media strategy, marketing and analytics. The approach was not to think of a flag ship campaign and then figure out how to extend it to social, but instead when the concept was detailed, social media presented itself as an obvious channel not just for handling a large volume of the customer issues during the campaign itself, but also as the ideal starting point for the campaign – to gain an understanding of the most commonly faced consumer issues.
And just like the marketing department at KLM, teams in organizations of all shapes and sizes have stopped worrying about how to include social channels in their activities. The question they now ask is – are we doing enough to tap the full potential of social media?
Customer care departments were initially pulled into social media as consumers decided to report their complaints on those channels. Today most customer care leaders are using social media to anticipate and address problems faster than ever before while also significantly reducing costs by shifting most of their customer interactions onto social media as compared to more expensive retail or phone based channels.
Human resource teams actively use social media for attracting talent along with building the organization’s profile amongst potential employees. Corporate communications experts realize that business leaders may today be shaped by how they behave and interact on social media. Lead generation for sales, tracking of competition for strategic inputs and many other such activities have now been fully integrated into organizational functioning.
The point here is that social media skills are required and being utilized by organizations from the boardroom to where the rubber meets the road. And this demand is being fulfilled by people who bring in special skills that enable them to understand what the organization wants to achieve and then create solutions where social media technology and platforms play a key role in the achievement of those objectives.
There is more to a social media pro than what meets the eye. Want to know what they do and how they do it? Be sure to head to our Top Courses page and add the social edge to your profile.
Keep watching this space for my next article where we discuss the evolving social media pro.