Delta Airlines tracks the pulse of its customers, responds with Twitter

@DeltaAssist and the airline’s Twitter Watch program help meet customer needs in real time.


What’s customer service all about if it’s not about listening to customers, hearing their needs, and responding? Wouldn’t it be nice as a customer to get that kind of service 24 hours a day, seven days a week, no matter where you are, even in the middle of an airport?

It’s this kind of customer service that earned Delta Airlines top honors in the Best Use of Twitter category in PR Daily’s Digital PR & Social Media Awards.

[The PR Daily Digital PR and Social Media Awards was presented by Synaptic Digital. Learn more about Synaptic Digital here (pdf).]

As the airline developed its social media strategy, it wanted to use the venue to provide “a real value—customer support.”

@DeltaAssist was the first airline program in the U.S. to use Twitter for customer support. When it started, four community managers provided support Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. EST, helping customers who sought answers to questions about things like flight status or gate numbers.

As team members listened to customers, they realized they could help customers even more by using the social media platform to solve problems.

The expanded team includes 12 empowered reservations agents serving customers 24/7, using a triage system to respond to tweets. They can do anything a call center employee can do, except book a new ticket. To add a personal touch, employees sign their tweets with their initial, and their first names are listed on the airline’s Twitter profile.

The @DeltaAssist team also noticed customers used Twitter for complaints about airport facilities or service. In response, the airline developed its “Twitter Watch” program, working with station managers and airport personnel to deal with real-time customer experience issues.

The airline added a Spanish-language line, @DeltaAssist_ES, as a pilot program in September 2011.

What’s the real secret to its success? Jerry Fletcher, on behalf of Delta, let’s us in on why Delta is so successful on Twitter:

What are the program’s payoffs? Check out these 2011 statistics:

• 158,000 mentions on Twitter
• 115,000 outbound tweets and direct messages
• 28,000 additional customers, even with travelers following and unfollowing based on travel plans

Customer service is really all about the customer, though, so how is @DeltaAssist doing creating brand evangelists?

If these tweets and this video are any indication, the Twitter strategy is working out just fine:

Thanks to the social media team @Delta (DeltaAssist!) for renewing my faith in customer service!

@DeltaAssist one of the best customer service experience ever #delta @Delta


Want to get recognized for your hard work? Find out about Ragan and PR Daily’s award programs here: http://www.prdaily.com/Main/RaganAwardsPrograms.aspx

Ann Tracy Mueller is the co-editor of Ragan’s Health Care News.

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