arvato UKarvato UKJune 14, 2016
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6min2015

Adopting a proactive approach is key to meeting increasing consumer expectations when it comes to customer service. Debbie Nolan, Business Development Director, CRM and Public Sector, at arvato UK and Ireland, looks at the success of Schiphol airport’s social media strategy and draws out some key lessons for UK businesses.

Social media is now an established and invaluable communication channel through which consumers expect to receive quick and professional customer service. Research from the Ombudsman Service showed that 36 per cent of people in the UK now use social media to make or escalate a complaint, so getting your social media approach right is important to ensure that these are handled correctly, leaving customers with a positive perception about their experience with the organisation.

As a result, an increasing number of companies are moving towards a responsive, ‘always-on’ multi-channel strategy with the aim of solving customer issues in minutes, no matter what the time of day. The key for businesses is to have a social media customer care strategy in place which facilitates this process and ensures the customer experience is the best it can be.

Delivering a proactive model

With customer satisfaction being driven by positive brand experience, organisations are increasingly moving from a reactive to proactive approach on their social media channels. A proactive customer care model can help a business to highlight opportunities to engage with its customers on a more personal level, while adding value through interacting and helping them before they even approach the company for assistance.

An example of where this strategy has been very successful is one of Europe’s busiest airports, Schiphol in Amsterdam. Here a dedicated social media team uses specialist channel management software to highlight specific engagements where it’s possible to add value that the customer will truly appreciate.

Amsterdam Airport Schiphol: a model for social success

Schiphol airport is an international gateway, with more than 60 million people passing through its doors annually. Its long-term vision is to be ‘Europe’s preferred digital airport’. In order to achieve this it has set out a social media strategy that enables the airport to engage with its passengers digitally on a personal level, while strengthening the airport’s reputation for exceptional customer service and for being a friendly stop-over destination for passengers.

In 2015 alone the airport reached 25 million people via social media, with a 250 per cent increase in conversations compared to the year before. Notably, over a quarter of all conversations were proactive, making Schiphol the most proactive Dutch web care account according to an analysis of over 400 organisations by OBI4wan, a leading social media management platform in the Netherlands.

The sheer number of passengers means there are various channels on which Schiphol airport can be talked about online by thousands of people, so having a strong social media customer care policy is really important.

A dedicated team of social media specialists working from a customer contact centre is key to delivering this, adding value for customers by offering information or support at the moment they need it. Besides meeting customer demand and responding to enquiries, the Schiphol team uses its comprehensive social media monitoring tool to make as many passengers as possible feel welcome by engaging in proactive, personal and relevant conversations.

By using this system to track what passengers are already talking about and looking at factors such as message sentiment and tone of voice, the team has created a process for deciding whether a response is desirable, or even needed. On public platforms such as Twitter, this means it’s possible for Schiphol to paint a detailed picture of the customer and gather the information needed to create more personalised responses.

The social media team uses its monitoring software to listen to a wide spectrum of conversations on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. It listens to everything from direct mentions of the airport to conversations about vacations or destinations travellers can reach via Schiphol. This provides the context needed to help determine whether interrupting a conversation proactively will be well received by the passenger.

As such, Schiphol airport is able to meet customer demand on social media by responding to queries swiftly as well as appropriately. What’s more the proactive model serves to identify potential issues before they escalate, which can help to turn negative customer experiences into positive ones, and thus have an overall, tangible effect on customer loyalty.

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