Twitter as a Customer Service Tool

By mkeagymkeagy (1261408881|%a, %b %e at %I:%M%p)

Taking Off

The Airline Industry is a great example of businesses using Twitter effectively (and ineffectively). For the month of August 2009, Social Media guru Brian Solis performed a clever analysis of Twitter usage amongst US airlines. Here I will provide a summarry of Solis' analysis in Twitter Trends: Airline Hotlist August 2009 while including my own opinion as to how Twitter can be used to the Airline's advantage in such a fast-paced and volatile industry.

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The Players

The following US commercial airlines
are currently on Twitter:

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Carrier Username # of Followers
Jet Blue @jetblue 1,223,459
Southwest @southwestair 644,533
United @unitedairlines 34,307
Virgin America @virginamerica 31,644
American @aairwaves 13,684
Alaska @alaskaair 12,240
Delta @deltaairlines 11,916
Spirit @spiritairlines 8,179
Hawaiian @flyhawaiian 4,374
Continental @continental 3,779
US Airways @usairways 2,580
Aloha @aloha_airlines 807
Frontier @frontierstorm 804

As you can see, the number of followers for each airline is quite varied and not representitive of the carrier's actual size. Noteable oberservations include:

  • The top two carriers on Twitter, Jet Blue and Southwest, have more followers than all the other tweeting carriers combined
  • Aloha Airlines retains a sizeable following despite shutting down in 2008.

Customer Relations

A great use of Twitter is to improve customer relations, especially with premium business travellers, the the bread and butter of an airline's revenue. Unlike the traditional customer service department, a carrier's participation on Twitter appears publicly as participation in the entire Twitter community. Tweeting also establishes a more personal connection between the traveller and the (often impersonal) airline. In his analysis, Solis also ranked airline's "involvement" in the Twitter community through the number of users the carriers follow, and total tweets tweeted per airline:

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"In Social Media, participation counts for everything. It demonstrates willingness to interact with peers and customers, symbolizes intent, and expresses purpose." -Brian Solis

Twitter also serves as a convenient medium for travellers to voice their opinions regarding the airline. Here is the breakdown of personalized tweets directed @airlinename:

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Notable Observations:

  • American Airlines leads with 6,180 @aairwaves tweets
  • Despite being inactive and not tweeting, US Airways recieved almost 5,000 @usairways tweets.

Positive Sentiments in @airlines Tweets

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Negative Sentiments in @airlines Tweets

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