From strikes and lost luggage to flight cancellations and delays, this year’s travel season saw its fair share of turbulence. This led many passengers to take to social media to express their frustrations.
Amid these challenges, social media teams were under an enormous amount of pressure to solve an unprecedented number of cases. This, coupled with the uncertainty of when some resemblance of normality would return, caused stress among care teams and customers alike.
Today, we see flight sales soaring and airline companies continuing to promote new packages and deals. This is evidenced by easyJet putting its summer 2023 schedule of nearly a quarter of a million flights between May and September 2023. The travel surge will continue into the next few years as people look to make up for lost time, putting their money toward travel that was postponed in recent years.
With this return of passenger demand, airlines need to ensure their customer care teams are set up for success. 86% percent of consumers leave a trusted brand after only two poor experiences. More than half of UK consumers expect brands to respond to online customer service inquiries within an hour. Evidently, the pressure is on to create a responsive and stress-free experience.
The take-off of airline CX
According to Emplifi data, the airline industry is one of the strongest when it comes to the speed at which they answer customer questions on Twitter (1.7 hours) and Facebook (5.4 hours). However, response time is just one metric that brands must consider when evaluating the success of their social customer care. When it comes to response rate, the airline industry falls on the lower end of the spectrum, answering just under 30% of all customer enquiries.
In other words, airline CX teams can be quick when responding to customer queries on Facebook and Twitter, although this needs to happen with more consistency.
Painting the UK picture
Emplifi looked at the data taken from six of the UK’s leading airlines between July 22nd – August 17th of 2022. This revealed that TUI UK topped the leader board. They had the highest response rate to user questions on Twitter by answering just over half of all concerns (51%). This is compared to EasyJet whose response rate came in lowest at an average of 28%.
Despite TUI UK coming out on top, there was still a large majority of questions going unanswered. This is an issue mirrored across other airlines with Virgin Atlantic only answering 43% and Ryanair at 34%.
In terms of response time on Twitter, 76% of Jet2’s customer questions took over 12 hours to be responded to. This is compared to Virgin Atlantic where only 1% of their customers waited the same amount of time for a response.
68% of consumers use social media during key moments throughout the customer journey. 56% of customers say that customer service quality has a more defining impact on how they perceive brands over any other criteria. Brands cannot afford to miss the mark when it comes to providing real-time, personalised responses to customers on social channels.
Putting this into practice
When it comes to brand perception, 24/7 customer service availability is key. 29% of consumers name this as the top factor driving positive brand perception. It is quickly followed by quick response times (28%). Overall, this indicates the critical role of a solid, always-on customer care infrastructure across all channels.
Brands can look to achieve this ‘always-on’ culture whilst balancing staff well-being. This is done by investing in smart, conversational AI technologies to provide routine answers to basic questions. An AI-based CX platform can handle the most urgent queries effectively, giving social customer care teams a single view of all previous customer interactions and other relevant data. This is a competitive differentiator for brands when providing speedy, personalised resolutions to customer queries at scale.
At a time of ongoing disruption, consumers are increasingly turning to social media to communicate with brands. Therefore, it’s important that responses are quick and accurate. Great customer service on social media channels can build confidence in the brand. According to Webex research, over 70% of Gen-Z and millennials prefer communicating over digital channels. 67% of customers also say personalised communications are extremely important. And this is not only for those asking, but for those watching as well.
Communicating with customers is crucial to maintaining the relationship. Be proactive, speedy, and transparent. Airline CX is a corner of the business world that especially has a lot to deal with post-pandemic. Taking on some of these communication guidelines could be invaluable.