What to know about social customer care in the Airline industry today

We take a closer look at Emplifi data for answers.

It’s safe to say the Airline industry has undergone a unique set of challenges set in motion by the COVID-19 pandemic.

During the time of travel bans and cancellations, social media care teams were under an enormous amount of pressure to solve an unprecedented amount of cases. This, coupled with the uncertainty of when some resemblance of normality would return, caused stress among care teams and customers alike.

So, have airlines changed their approach to handling social media queries now that pandemic restrictions have started to lift? We look at Emplifi's social media benchmark data to find out.

Travelers are making up for lost time

According to Adobe Digital Economy Index, airline ticket sales are currently hitting record highs. The report analyzed six of the top 10 US airlines that have seen record numbers, selling more tickets domestically in February 2022 compared to the same period pre-pandemic.

People are making up for lost time, putting their money toward travel that was postponed due to COVID-19 restrictions. With such an unprecedented boom in ticket sales, airline brands need to ensure their social media care teams are set up for success. With 86% percent of consumers leaving a brand they trusted after only two poor customer experiences, the pressure is on to create a responsive and stress-free experience.

Customer care teams are responding quickly on social media (but a key gap exists)

According to Emplifi data, the Airline industry is one of the strongest when it comes to the speed at which they answer customer questions on Twitter (1.7 hours) and Facebook (5.4 hours), coming second only to Telecommunications brands:

However, response time is just one metric that brands can look to when evaluating the success of their social customer care. When it comes to response rate, the Airline industry falls on the lower end of the spectrum. In other words, while Airline care teams are quick to respond to customer queries on Facebook and Twitter, a large proportion of comments are going unanswered.

When taking a closer look at the 14 US mainline airlines, Emplifi found that a whopping 76% of customer questions remained unanswered on Twitter from January 1 to May 30, 2022. Responses to Tweets with brand mentions have an even lower response rate, with 85% of Tweets going unanswered in the same time period.

People put a lot of weight on customer care

In another report by Emplifi, more than half of respondents (56%) say they feel that customer service quality has a more defining impact on how they perceive brands than other criteria like “share my values”, “provide additional recommendations”, or “ask for my feedback”. When asked to pick one item that drives positive brand perceptions the most, consumers rated 24/7 customer service availability (29%) and quick response times (28%) as the top two items, indicating the critical role of a solid, always-on customer care infrastructure across all channels.

The demand for self-service care is also on the rise. 75% of US consumers feel it’s important for brands to provide them with a fully self-service customer care option, with Gen X, Millennial, and Gen Z consumers all placing similar levels of importance on having this option.

A combination of messaging automation and self-service options could be ideal solutions for airline brands that want to provide excellent CX at every stage of the buyer’s journey.

Airlines must ensure their social customer care efforts continue to take flight

As the world continues to emerge from the pandemic, the demand for travel should only continue to rise. Airlines should look to solutions that will help scale their operations to maintain customer satisfaction. The employment of messaging technology such as bots could help reduce the number of unanswered questions.

Brands may feel that they understand the importance of good customer service, but do they understand just how quickly customer expectations around service are evolving? Having a finger on the pulse of the customer is key to being able to deliver seamless, timely, and outstanding customer service. As CX leaders know, great experiences build advocacy, deepen customer loyalty, and ultimately increase profit.

About the methodology:

Comments made to brands from 81,815 brands on Facebook and 8,954 on Twitter were analyzed from January 01 - April 15, 2022. No direct messages were analyzed as this is a private metric that is unavailable. Industries with less than 50 profiles in the sample were excluded. Only user comments including "?" are considered as questions.

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