It’s been a bit since I’ve written about one of my favorite topics: How airlines could soar by incorporating social and real-time responses to provide a better customer experience. I’ve had travel on the mind lately since I’m heading Barcelona, and was reminded once again of just how important customer engagement and customer service are in this incredibly competitive age.
Boarding has begun: Upgraded experiences required
The stakes for the battle of the consumer couldn’t be higher for businesses as the web has opened up the ability to purchase anything, at anytime, from anywhere. If you’re continually not providing a great experience, or what the customer needs, when the customer wants it, the customer will not hesitate to search out (and use) your competition. Running an optimal omnichannel experience is critical.
When it comes to air travel, notedly, the choices for consumers are much more limited, but social media has served as a far greater economic force than any ad campaign possibly could. We’re no longer convinced by slick adverts and slogans; we see social media and the interaction that it garners, and make our decisions from there.
With the airline follies of just this year, it’s pretty clear that most airlines still aren’t grasping the importance of social media and responses. As my co-worker Jack wrote, “The customer is still king,” and 2017 is proving it time and again. It seems no amount of money spent on marketing can overcome the damage done to a reputation with missteps in customer service.
Turbulence is expected: Have a team in place to deal with it
I’ve made no secret about how much I love American Airlines because of the customer experience that they provided for my daughter. Quite literally, I don’t ever consider their competition, and I’m not sure what it would take to make me do so. But here’s the thing: It’s not because American is without flaws in their systems, or runs error-free.
While booking my flights to Barcelona and home, I ran into a couple of issues where I needed to talk to someone there. Each time, they replied to my Tweets and DM’s within minutes – MINUTES – while I sat on hold waiting to talk to someone for over an hour and a half, and my Facebook message went unanswered. I’m not sure if they are employing more people to handle social via Twitter, but I do know that them using my favorite medium to respond, and respond quickly, continues to reinforce my dedication to their brand.
Since my last post about how the airline industry can improve via social, American has added stickers to messaging, so customers can click an image to send a quick update on the status of their journey while traveling. They are adapting to the new forms of communication, rather than expecting the customer to conform to theirs.
(I need to make clear that I am in no way associated with, or compensated for these posts by American; these are my personal experiences. That being said, I really love the “upgraded” sticker, American. Wink. Wink.)
Out of the holding pattern
It feels like American is doing more than saying they are trying, they are trying. They’re building up services, and, at least on Twitter, not just adding people to handle customer service, but people who are very skilled at their jobs, and who know how to interact with their consumer. Even if my customer journey with them isn’t flawless, it’s consistent when I reach out, and they always make me feel like I’m valued.
The customer experience makes all the difference in the world, because at the end of the day, we are all consumers. We all spend money somewhere, with some brand or service. If there isn’t a connection or a value assigned to those purchases, there is nothing to cement your brand with your customer. Businesses simply must go above and beyond, or risk their existence.