Over the last week, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines set out to help any traveller in the world. Whether or not they were flying KLM.
Now, read that last sentence again!
While most airlines struggle to scale to provide decent customer service via social media to their own passengers, KLM took on the world. Already the best airline on social media, KLM realised they were already well known in their home country of the Netherlands for their customer service. And they wanted to spread the word around the world, even among non-customers.
So for one whole week, via the KLM HappyToHelp Customer Service initiative the airline took over Twitter, by offering to help anyone flying via Amsterdam Schiphol Airport, on any airline. Aptly named #happytohelp, the initiative had its physical headquarters at Schiphol Plaza, where multiple screens tracked tweets and Facebook messages from travellers at Schiphol, and from those around the world!
A 30-strong KLM team in each shift, comprised of Customer Service, Corporate Communications and agency staff, responded with video answers to problems, and often went airside to help passengers out. A total of 250 KLM staff participated in the initiative, with additional help from teams in Hong Kong, New York and Sao Paolo. They managed to help at least 100 passengers over the week. Almost 50 videos of the multiple initiatives have been uploaded on YouTube and Facebook by KLM.
Customer Service or Marketing?
When you think of airlines with world-class customer service, many come to our mind – from Singapore Airlines in Asia to LAN Airlines in South America. But few outside Europe would think of KLM as the first airline when asked who provides the best customer service in-flight or online. In the age of the connected traveller, it is the latter that matters just as much.
KLM has the best social media customer service team in the world, and that’s what sets them apart. Through the #happytohelp initiative, KLM re-iterated this fact to people who were not even flying the airline. While many might wonder, “why help other airlines’ passengers?”
I’d say, why wait till someone is on board the plane to impress them? Let’s get them at the airport or on Twitter!
In hindsight, it’s a very smart move from KLM. If a passenger is flying via Schiphol, and not on KLM, it’s very likely that they are flying on a competitor. So why not grab their attention while they are in KLM’s home turf?
The #happytohelp initiative was just as much about customer service, as about ensuring that KLM remains top of mind. It was just as much of a marketing campaign. If you think about the thousands of views for the 50 YouTube videos that KLM put out, or the hundreds of thousands of shares for some of their videos, you’ll realize the marketing power of this initiative.
Airline marketing today is about going above and beyond, telling the world about it, and ensuring everyone you tell shares the story too!
So, what did KLM achieve? The airline let everyone know that it has some of the highest customer service standards in the world. And the next time you want to book a flight, do think beyond price, and about the importance of customer service too. Because in the age of the connected traveller, having “the most helpful airline in the world” tag goes a long way.