How to keep Twitter-savvy customers happy

How do you turn customer engagement on a channel like Twitter into a positive experience? Andrew Hennigan talks to a DMO, low-cost carrier and B2B travel player to find out

Twitter is viewed by many as far more than a channel for hearing marketing messages. So when the expectations of users are not met they can be disappointed. 

Recently I tried to check in for a flight using a smartphone app. Normally this works smoothly but this time it would not go beyond the seat selection stage. Like many people in this situation I turned to Twitter, first to see if there was any talk of a major issue. Finding nothing I then tweeted to Royal Dutch Airlines, KLM. “@KLM is there a problem with online check in this morning?”

Before long, KLM, who will be speaking in San Francisco next year, responded. They offered to look into the problem and minutes later I was checked in and ready to go.

Yet, Twitter conversations do not always have such a positive outcome. Sometimes there is no response, sometimes it is too late and sometimes it is ineffective. As Joshua Sloser, VP of Digital Innovation at Hilton point outs:

  • 42% of guests expect a response on social media within an hour
  • 72% expect a response in an hour if it’s a customer service related issue.

And yet…

  • 70% of companies ignore complaints from customers on social platforms.

So how should travel companies manage their Twitter accounts to keep customers satisfied?  Here tips from the experts at three diverse businesses: the destination marketer, a low-cost airline and a B2B company.

1. The destination marketer

·        Don’t keep followers waiting for answers. According to Lesley Mair, social media executive at Scotland’s destination marketer, VisitScotland, you need to be there when the customer needs you and not just between 9am and 5pm. “If you can respond out of hours so much the better,” she says.

·        Remember that Twitter is not one way like radio. “Listening to what your followers are talking about and what other people are saying about your company or brand can open up many channels for you to interact and build better relationships.”

2. The low-cost airline

·        Expect criticism and take it seriously. Sometimes tweets from customers are critical of your company and these need to be handled carefully. “We take complaints seriously,” explains Laurie Meacham, Manager of Customer Commitment at JetBlue. “We pass them along, when it is constructive feedback and we uphold our guidelines and support our crew members.” Empathy is important too and JetBlue understands that travel isn’t always fun!

·        Be quick to lend an ear but not every complaint deserves a response.Sometimes customers just vent, and that’s ok, says Meacham.

·        Be gracious in response to praise. It’s always good to respond to value customers and respond to positive feedback.

·        Share compliments with your crew. JetBlue collects and shares personal compliments with deserving crew members.

3. The B2B player

·        It’s not just for B2C:Even business-to-business accounts require careful management of Twitter engagement, and Intelity Corp, a supplier of software to the hospitality industry, says this does bring benefits.

·        Don’t focus on just promoting yourself or your company. You should think of Twitter as having a conversation where you are looking to build trust and establish rapport with your target audience, and that includes whoever your clients and prospective clients are talking to, argues Chantelle Marcelle, Intelity’s Marketing & Public Relations Manager.

·        Ensure that your online approach reflects your real-world customer service policy. Ignoring people who tweet at you can seem rude and can impact the way your brand is perceived. Remember that Tweets can be viewed by the general public, so responses should always be well thought out.

·        Use Twitter to focus on multiple conversations: Sometimes it can also be helpful to monitor what other people are saying. “Twitter requires you to be able to focus on a number of different conversations going on simultaneously,” explains Marcelle. This allows you to pay attention to what is being said in and about your industry, and to identify opportunities to engage and even direct these conversations. This may not have a direct, quantifiable ROI, but the benefits are definitely there.

Engaging with customers and other stakeholders through Twitter might require some effort, but in an age where people are increasingly expecting to quick answers to their tweets, it’s an effort that perhaps everyone has to be making.

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