Digging into KLM’s Social Customer Service success story

Author: Paolo Fabrizio
Originally posted  on LinkedIn.com

If I asked you ‘what’s the best-known Social Customer Service case study?’ I guess you’d answer ‘Sure, it’s KLM!’. In fact it’s no secret that this brand is often mentioned either online and also in Social Customer Service conventions, as one of the best-in-class examples of successful integration of social channels into the contact center. So, before you might think I’ll tell an old story I have an announcement for you: Today I’m NOT going to tell you about KLM.

Instead, I’ll let KLM talk about their own story thru the words of one their most important managers: Jochem van Drimmelen, online reputation manager and social media advisor at KLM. So, without further ado, enjoy this special interview with Jochem.

8 Questions about KLM’s Social Customer Service

13 languages served, more than 200 social customer service agents, about 100.000 conversations every week, with an average of nearly 80% of customer satisfaction.

1. After almost six years, did you expect such impressive and amazing numbers?
Jochem: It has been quite an amazing journey indeed! I do recall a time in the early days where I said I could image that ‘one day’ we might have as many as 200 dedicated social media agents. But I don’t think I saw these volumes coming any time soon when I wrote a blog series about our strategy in 2012.

2. What aspect of your work surprised you most so far?
Jochem: I am still surprised to see so many companies being anxious to deal with online feedback. They ignore it and simply focus on posting marketing messages. Rather than seeing negative feedback as a threat, we embrace it and see it as a great opportunity to get in touch personally and show our passengers – and the world – that we care, and get inspired to fix things. In fact, providing excellent customer service is precondition to anything else we do on social media.

3. Can we say that, thanks to its Social Customer Service, KLM could become a world company at 360 degrees?
Jochem: Ever since KLM was founded in 1919, it has been an airline of pioneers and innovators. Connecting people by bridging continents is in our DNA, and social media fits in perfectly. Social media boosted a cultural change in becoming a more – or perhaps the most – authentic, transparent and customer oriented airline.

Providing excellent customer service is precondition to anything else we do on social media.

4. Are we moving towards a complete integration of customer care and content management on social media?
Jochem: Our social media strategy is based on three pillars: customer service, brand (which includes content), and commerce. To deliver all this in a 24/7 one-stop-shop, it is key that we sit together and cooperate closely. That’s why we established the Social Media Hub, which is like the spider in a web. In the Social Media Hub we create synergy by bringing together experts on different topics, while maintaining short ties with any department.

5. Some say that the development of digital may contribute to reduce the workforce. KLM’s experience however shows exactly the opposite. What do you think about that?
Jochem: When we established our Social Media Hub in 2010 we did indeed anticipate on reducing incoming phone calls, not workforce. It wasn’t until recently, however, that we saw the first signs of that. We’d like to look at it as offering an additional and very convenient option for our clients to get in touch with us. It’s on top of, not instead of. And it proofs very effective.

6. Let’s talk about figures, if you don’t mind. In terms of ROI, how do you measure the productivity/profitability of your Social Customer Service?
Jochem: I’d like to stick to my own field of expertise here, which is online reputation. Consumers rely way more on shared experiences than on classic marketing campaigns. If your hotel scores bad reviews on Tripadvisor, you are in trouble. Our main goal is therefore to be there where our customers are, and make a true difference. If we make them happy and inspire them to speak positively about KLM, or ultimately change bashers into ambassadors, it is priceless. We have scientific proof that our activities on social media have a positive impact on KLM’s over-all reputation.

7. Do you plan to extend these services to other languages and/or to new social channels?
Jochem: The social media landscape is constantly moving, and innovations come fast. We are on top of all the developments, and explore new opportunities to add maximum value and relevance to the customer journey. This includes being flexible and able to adapt. More than once, we have been an initiator and first mover. Recently, we were the world’s first airline to introduce the full potential of Facebook Messenger .

8. Can you tell us a tip to become a successful Social Customer Service company such as KLM?
Jochem: First of all listen, care, and get inspired. Social media provides some of the best possible feedback a company could wish for, free of charge. Embrace it and employ trained staff to facilitate an authentic, open online dialogue. Next: cooperate and break through silos. It has been the key to our success.

Consumers rely way more on shared experiences than on classic marketing campaigns.

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