Sunday, April 25, 2010

Air France Uses Twitter To Deal With Customer Service During Volcano Crisis

The volcano crisis that hit Europe those past few weeks have been a remarkable example on how to use social media to deal with crisis and customer care. Indeed, I have several of my friends that were supposed to take a plane to go on vacations or to come back to France. Trying to reach someone over the phone was absolutely impossible, with waiting times of about 2 hours...

But some smater people, who were familliar with Twitter, decided not to reach the airline company via phone, but to tweet to their Twitter account. And hence, surprisingly, it seemed that some companies like Air France, were actually pretty active, and proposing solutions thanks to twitter.

Hence Air France proposed to many to rebook their flights, and so on. Actually, the Twitter account of Air France has been designed for commercial purposes, proposing special offers. But due to the many questions they had to face, it turned into a special customer service medium.

Actually, this is a true web 2.0 mindset they had, listening to customers, and then adapting their message to the need of the community.

This is a beautiful customer relationship management example on how to use social media for customer service, especially during crisis. I believe that call centers are not really made for those crisis, as they can have a specific amount of calls per hours, and therefore note really to adapt fast while they have a huge amount of call. Hence, here are two short comes for call centers during crisis:
  • They are sized for specific and predictable needs. Thanks to history, you are able to know how many representatives you should put during a certain period of times. TO dramatically increase your number of people is difficult, for scheduling reason, but also for technical reasons, as you might not have extra desks to open.
  • They have to standardized responses: Call centers have developped softwares to have an answer for 90% of customer's questions. Some of them are not even adapted to their questions, but when you have questions that are way out of the lines, they are not adapted, and representatives have not the power to go beyond their assignment, which is necessary.
This is a case study to remember for the crisis your company might have to face in the future. And you, what do you thing about this story? Do you have other examples?