Editor’s Note: Here’s another guest post by Peter Claridge of Unmetric, an exclusive aviation partner of SimpliFlying. Unmetric is a social media benchmarking company that helps brands analyse how well they’re doing on social media by including in-depth insights into numerous metrics as well as information on what kind of content “works” and how competitors are faring. Among Unmetric’s list of illustrious clients are Citibank, Nestlé and AirTel.

In many respects, Facebook takes the limelight when it comes to looking at how an airline is engaging with the community. However, over the past couple of years Twitter has inadvertently become the public helpdesk for brands around the world. Many airlines have been quick to establish a presence here to ensure that where ever there are questions and praise (and to some extent, complaints) a representative is there is respond in 140 characters.

US airlines, like many other US brands, have been quick to build their Twitter teams and are blazing a trail for many other global airlines to follow. SimpliFlying and Unmetric decided to dig a little deeper using the Unmetric platform to see if there is a clear leader or whether all airlines are doing a similar job. We collected and analyzed the data for the last thirty days to discover the benchmarks around which other airlines can compare themselves.

 

Volume of Tweets

JetBlue is often held up as the darling of Twitter but when it comes to raw number of Tweets, both DeltaAssist (Delta’s dedicated customer-service channel on Twitter) and American Airlines beat them hands down. The customer support channel for Delta handles more than twice the number of questions than JetBlue. In terms of raw numbers, all seven airlines sent a total of 11,398 tweets in the last 30 days – that’s an average of 16 tweets per hour.

 

Fingers on the Buzzers

The aviation industry has some of the best response times of any sector but blazing a trail for others to follow is Delta Assist. The Twitter team at Delta managed to respond to 4,235 questions in the last 30 days with an average response time of just 11 minutes. They’ve either got some speedy typers or an army of people with their fingers on the buzzers waiting to reply.

Both US Airways and United are using their Twitter accounts to provide customer support but are not able to match the likes of Delta and JetBlue at the moment. It’ll be interesting to keep an eye on their response times to see if it comes down in the next few months.

 

Round The Clock Service

Out of the seven airlines we analyzed, only JetBlue and Delta Assist appear to have 24/7 operations. We used EST as the reference time and when we aggregated all the tweets it produced the revealing graph below. Clearly for most airlines, their Twitter support is a 12 hour operation. It’s possible that the data is skewed a little bit because the airlines will have their Twitter teams in different timezones, but most seem to be operating between 9am and 6pm EST.

With US Airways’ 8 hour response time, it crossed my mind whether their operations are in the right timezone. If most of their customers are from the West coast they could have a long wait if they post in the afternoon as the Twitter team will have all gone home for the day.

 

A Tweet By Tweet Breakdown

It’s interesting to see that nearly all US airlines are using Twitter as a customer support channel rather than a platform to promote themselves. Only Virgin America and Southwest Air are actively putting fresh content out on Twitter while the other 5 are focused almost exclusively on replying to customers. Delta have gone down the same road as Dell with road of one account for brand news and one purely for support and with the volume of tweets they send it’s probably a good idea. As more and more brands create dedicated support accounts on Twitter it might only be a matter of time before JetBlue and American Air decide to set up their standalone ‘support’ account.

Most airlines certainly seem to know that in order to manage their reputation online they need to be where the conversations are happening. Delta Assist are, in our opinion, laying down the benchmark for the sector with their lightning quick response times while sending the most number of tweets. JetBlue has always been the poster child for brands that get Twitter, but if Delta Assist continues to set the benchmarks, we might have to hold up a new king of Twitter.

Find out more about how Unmetric can help your airline benchmark its social media prowess here. Or drop us a line directly at unmetric@simpliflying.com. Look out for even more exciting stuff from our collaboration with Unmetric in the days to come!

You can see previous posts by Unmetric here.

Shubhodeep Pal

Shubhodeep Pal

Vice President, Products & Operations at SimpliFlying
Shubhodeep Pal is the Vice President of Products and Operations at SimpliFlying and has been leading Product Development, Marketing and Business Development since December 2010 from the headquarters in Singapore. His writings have appeared extensively on SimpliFlying as well as revered industry outlets such as Tnooz, Airlinetrends and Loyalty360. He has considerable experience working in the social media sphere, having also conducted a workshop at the Ministry of Home Affairs, Singapore. He has written an introductory e-book for social media newbies and has previously interned at the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) as well. His wide range of interests include startups, programming, economics, geopolitics, film-direction/criticism and literature. His first collection of poems, Interruptions was released in 2009. He can be reached at shubhodeep@simpliflying.com.
Shubhodeep Pal
Shubhodeep Pal
  • Ingvay7

    Interesting post. Can you provide some clarity on how the response times are being calculated?

    Judging by Delta’s numbers, “4,235 questions in the last 30 days with an average response time of just 11 minutes” , the Average response time is coming to 10.20 minutes taking 30 day 24/7 operation in consideration close to your 11 minute figure. Is the same logic being applied to US Airways? Taking a similar approach, with your figure of 485 responses assuming a 30 day,24/7 operation, the response time comes up to 89.07 or about an hour and a half. Similarly for, United, it comes to 2.35 close to your 2:27 figure.

    Also, how are you factoring direct messages as well?

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