Two things. I love flying…and I love social media. So when I found myself talking about a major Australian airline (Qantas) last
week, I had to share. Not because of the troubles they are having with industrial actions and resulting strikes and cancelled flights….. but for their pro-active approach to customer service via Twitter, and on social media in general! At a time when they might well want to run and hide, Qantas are putting themselves IN the public eye more than ever to engage with their customers!
So here are 5 ways in which Qantas show us that Twitter Matters, and why all businesses should consider using it to promote their brand and engage with customers so that they walk out the (virtual) door raving about you!
UPDATE AS AT 23.11.11 – Wow, the updates keep coming! Today I watched as a social media and public relations disaster unfolded on Twitter for Qantas with their #qantasluxury hashtag promotion – twitter followers were asked to tweet about Qantas Luxury in order to win $3o Luxury PJs…soon the hashtag was hijacked with countless passengers and (admittedly funny) Twitterati, jamming the feed with their take on Qantas Luxury, the majority of it was not positive. If you do read down past all the updates I have had to write on this post, I hope you do appreciate that the Twitter team WERE doing it right before and at the start of this Crisis. Now they have a real public relations disaster to survive. Not only was it an interesting choice of “prize” given the number of flights and holidays available to them, but it was a case of the timing being too raw. Social media done well can come out thriving from something like this…it remains to be seen if the team can recover and get it right…I am definitely watching this space (as is most of Australia with #qantasluxury now trending on Twitter due to all the activity!
UPDATE AS AT 8.11.11 - After writing this post, I went away on a week long holiday to Fiji and missed all the news of the sudden grounding of the Qantas Fleet. Returning to Australia on a partner airline, I came back to the aftermath of Qantas Passengers stranded worldwide. I immediately wondered how the Twitter team was coping with the (no doubt) heated and concerned tweets they would have received. I wanted to add this postscript, as it appears from all accounts that the Twitter team were shut down by Senior Staff/Alan Joyce and went offline for a period of some hours during the crisis….which is a real shame for the passengers, Qantas and the Twitter team. I am sure, after weeks of doing it “right” they would have been frustrating if they were, in fact, ordered to do so, as they were not able to use social media correctly or effectively when they really needed it…when everyone was turning to Twitter at the height of the crisis to get information, it would have been the perfect medium to provide real time, current information. Perhaps keeping that one division open (and adding some staff) may have been a small gesture towards supporting stranded passengers. It does provide an important lesson in ensuring that senior levels of management are as well versed in the correct application of social media as the team that is implementing it! Let’s hope it doesn’t happen again, and Qantas Twitter/Social Media can recover from this.
And now to the original post …. )
QANTAS uses 5 key ways to leverage the power of Social Media and Twitter for a positive result:
Q – QUICK RESPONSE
I have personally tweeted Qantas on a number of occasions now about a range of issues in the past few months – including feedback about customer service, checking on flight times, and asking about the status of my flight given strike action last week. This I know for sure: Qantas uses Twitter to respond, and respond fast. It is faster than their website, faster than the phone, and it really does feel like someone is on the end of your mobile phone caring about what you say. Sure, sometimes there is a delay, but for the most part, I have been highly impressed that they make the effort to respond…even in times of crisis like this week, when they are dealing with strikes, cancelled and delayed flights and disgrunted passengers. Their quick response is brilliant use of social media to let their passengers know that they care. Quite frankly I wouldn’t blame the Customer Service Department if they wanted to run and hide, but instead, they have stepped up.
A – ACTIVELY LISTEN
Qantas are taking the time to listen to their passengers…whether they are cranky with them or not. And by using Twitter, they are doing this in “real time” – so there is no hiding behind what is happening on a daily basis with their airline. Whether it is an acknowledgement of a positive comment, a quick tweet to say that they have “heard” a complaint or concern, or a follow up to someone’s complaint, Qantas uses Twitter to Listen. They have used the platform to make it all about the passenger, and they do not shy away from a tough conversation….you have to give them a hat tip for that given that they only have 14o characters at a time to do it. Customer Service in 140 characters seems to be something they are handling very well!
N – NAVIGATE
Nobody can know all the answers, and as much as the Twitter team are doing it right, they don’t always know everything. This is where they are also doing something well – they are Navigating their passengers (gently and with encouraging words) to the place where they can best be helped. Scrolling through recent tweets I see replies such as:
* “Hi, no we are not and it sounds like you are travelling with @JetstarAirways so may be best to ask them about the baggage – Navigating the passenger to the relevant airline.
* ”If you are travelling with us, keep an eye herehttp://bit.ly/pcY9e3 for the latest info!” – Navigating the passenger to a website.
* “Hi, we are really sorry to hear this. Our Reservations team on 13 13 13 would be the best people to assist.” Navigating to the passenger to the best team/person to talk to.
@QantasAirways are using age-old customer service strategies paired with new technology to make the passenger feel heard…as even if they are not helped directly via Twitter, they come away from the “Twitter Team” feeling that they have been helped, and steered in the right direction.
T – THOUGHTFULNESS
I just scrolled through recent tweets – in the last past 20 minutes @QantasAirways have listened to passengers:
(a) Complain about delayed flights
(b) Rave about the service received by a team member
(c) Complain about cancelled flights
(d) Tell them that their grandfather has died (and thank the Cabin Crew for being so empathetic about their emotional state), and
(e) Ask for assistance with flight costs on compassionate grounds.
In every case their response and comments have been thoughtful and empathetic …and in the case of great feedback, grateful. Every passenger just wants to be heard, especially if they are concerned about something….@QantasAirways are making their passengers feel valued by valuing their comments. This is the power of social media – others get to see how they handle the good with the bad – what a great opportunity to show the Qantas brand in a positive light, even if the actual issue doesn’t start out positively. And they get to talk about the good experiences reported by passengers in a public forum, so that the story can be shared with others. This they do very well.
A – AUTHENTICITY
Qantas has stripped off and shown itself butt naked to their Passengers by using Twitter. There is no hiding behind automated phone services or impersonal websites…they have people in Twitterland responding and having a “conversation”. They are real and they really do give the impression that (a) they are interested and (b) they want to help. This screen shot of a recent tweet conversation pretty much says it all. Note how the person tweeting was announcing that he would be missing his sporting event (RHS Comments), but then was engaged by the response of the @QantasAirways team (LHS Highlighted Comment) – showing his surprise that there were REAL people on the other end of the Tweet, genuinely wanting to help!
It goes a little something like this:
@NastyHarry: At Qantas Club waiting to board flight to Perth. Flight Delayed – can’t believe I’m going to miss Aus vs RSA RWC Qtr Final!
@QantasAirways: Oh No! We’re really sorry Harry!
@NastyHarry: good Lord – are you real? If so how heartening!
@QantasAirways: We’re very real, Harry
Here is the screenshot – click to enlarge. By showing the people behind the business, and being transparent about the good and the bad (while having some fun), Qantas have invited their passengers to join in, engage with them and be transparent and honest about their experiences with the airline.
This goes without saying. Qantas have simply used Social Media (and in this case) Twitter, as a tool to achieve better customer service. By actively listening, engaging, being authentic, having empathy and thoughtfulness and by responding quickly they are able to make the customer or passenger feel valued (in real time). In an age when people are primarily communicating, searching for information and engaging with businesses on mobile devices, Qantas have found an effective way to take their customer service to the next level..and they are doing it well. The customer service we want from businesses hasn’t changed – it’s just the way that we receive it that has.
Just to finish. I do want to acknowledge (again) the lovely lady Bernadette who helped us check in at Brisbane Airport last week. At a time when there are new automated services meaning less contact with “real” people, this has obviously meant many changes for passengers, and for staff. Bernadette was one of the most friendly helpful people I have come across in a while. I tweeted about it to @QantasAirways on my way to the Departure Gates:
“@QantasAirways Bernadette at the new automated Checkin Brisbane Domestic renewed my faith in customer service! Lovely lady – really helpful!”
and they came back immediately with
“@sociallysorted Hi, thanks for letting us know we will try and pass your feedback on to Bernadette”.
What happens offline has now gone online, and I have no doubt that @QantasAirways will follow up with Bernadette…because they followed up with me.
Have you engaged with @QantasAirways on Twitter? Or have you seen examples of Twitter being used effectively by other companies to provide exceptional customer service?