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KLM Royal Dutch Airlines is the official airline of the Netherlands. It began in 1919, and now in partnership with Air France, carries over 70 million passengers a year to destinations globally.
Prior to 2010, most European airlines, including KLM had little presence on social media, mainly facebook and twitter. All that changed in Spring of 2010.
In April of 2010, a large volcanic eruption in Iceland of a volcano whose name I shall not attempt to pronounce, halted all air travel from Europe to North America.
The ashcloud would damage jet engines.
The week-long shutdown forced cancellation of tens of thousands of flights, affecting in some way, 1.2 million passengers per day.
Airlines customer service could not keep up with the massive number of calls, emails and swamped gate agents. Leading to increased frustration by everyone.
With all traditional customer service avenues clogged, travelers began turning to social media. KLM and a few other airlines began realizing social media was a great way to reach passengers. Twitter users created their own hashtags to tag posts, but soon KLM’s use of #ashcloud became a beacon for Twitter users to find information, and call KLM’s attention to questions by Twitter users. KLM stood apart because they pro-actively responded to people asking for help via social media. They used Facebook primarily to provide updates to the situation.
CLICK TO REVEAL BOTH EXAMPLES!
The event showed KLM executive management the power and potential of social media. They came up with a strategy based upon three pillars: Service, Brand and Reputation and Commerce.
They started a Social Care team, that would monitor Twitter, Facebook and later LinkedIn and respond to any question or concern. Some on the team include employees from other parts of the business, to provide a better understanding of their customers needs. 1 hour guarantee - With API (application program interface), they can tap directly into twitter, facebook and the Russian network VK. This means they do not have to search each network for posts, they come directly into their hub, making it faster to reply.
Facebook: 8.6 million Likes. Primary network. Features, promotional posts, history of the company, contests, engagement with customers, can now buy and pay for tickets on Facebook. Twitter: 1.6 million followers. Heavy engagement with customers, links to Facebook content, special hash tag campaigns. CLICK TO REVEALLLLLLL LInkedIn: Seems to lean towards business travel, links to facebook. Job opportunities posted here too. Instagram 101,000 followers- Photo contest, fan submissions, behind the scenes, pics of destinations. Google Plus: 2.7 million followers, but little interaction. Mirrors facebook content. Pinterest: Similar to Instagram, photo focused. Some historical stuff. Only 8000 followers. Youtube: 42,000 subscribers. Aviation enthusiast focused, some commercials.
Last fall for a week, KLM set up a special 24/7 customer service center in the middle of Schiphol (SKIPP –ULL) International Airport in Amsterdam to monitor for the #happytohelp hashtag from air traverlers around the world.
In certain cities, like New York, Sao Paulo, Brazil and Hong Kong, they had assets in place to help random travelers who tweet about their travel problems using that hashtag. Locally, in Amsterdam they had a car to take people to the airport, and they would give out pillows and other things to stranded passengers.
In 2011, just after announcing regular service to Miami from Amsterdam, a Dutch DJ named DJ Sied Van Riel (Sied Van REAL?) complained on twitter that they service would start a few days too late for a Miami music festival. In response, KLM told him if he could find 150 people willing to fly at the earlier day, they would arrange a special, on-off earlier flight from Amsterdam to Miami. The DJ succeeded, and KLM turned the flight into a midflight dance party, with DJs spinning and people dancing.
In 2012, KLM began a social media driven service called Meet and Seat, where you could choose who sits next to you on a flight based on similar interests on Facebook, LinkedIn and later, GooglePlus. KLM says it is a popular service, especially among Brazilians..who make up a large portion of their social media fans, despite KLM only flying to one city in Brazil.
Some business traverllers are not fond of the service because they’d rather rest on a flight.
To participate, you have to share your facebook, linkedin or google plus profile with KLM.
KLM’s record in social media is pretty blemish free except for this poorly thought out tweet following the Netherlands defeat of Mexico in the World Cup last year. They deleted it quickly, but It incited a pretty angry response, and a classy reply from Aeromexico. “Thanks for the great game. We are proud at our home.” (check with Lucilia..) KLM apologized to individual twitter users, but never issued a blanket apology
It is hard to determine if passenger counts are affected by positive social media efforts, but KLM executives believe it has.
However, according to KLM Social Media Manager, Karlijn Vogel-Meijer (Karlin Vogel Meyer??) paying attention to their social media strategy has earned them $28 million a year on ‘last click’ transactions from social media.
Social payments is bringing in money, and they also now produce games that they advertise on this vast social media network.
KLM Royal Dutch Airlines:
Flying High on Social Media
$1.7 billion dollars
lost during the entire
passengers per day
* Per International Air Transport Association (IATA) reported by BBC.
** - per BBC report - http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/8633892.stm
After the Ash Cleared…
Social Media Strategy Three “Pillars”
2. Brand & Reputation
“Social Care” – Team that monitors Facebook/Twitter, and
responds to any customer question or concern.
KLM Social Care
Started as a team of 160, including
employees from other areas of the
business, like flight attendants.
Monitors Facebook, Twitter,
LinkedIn and Vkontakte (Russian)
Grew to be 24/7, and to include
ability to respond in nearly every
language via Twitter.
1 hour reply promise on Facebook,
Twitter and Vkontakte.
Does Social Media Pay Off for
- Positive attention = new customers?
- $28 million in sales due to social media.
- New ‘Social Payment’ system brings in
$90,500 a week in sales, and will grow.
- Use their social media sites to advertise
their KLM produced mobile games.
- Proves their strategy has been effective.
- Can finance new campaigns and initiatives.