KLM has often been heralded as a social enterprise pacesetter, from the early days of its ‘KLM Surprise’ experiment on Twitter, to connecting passengers with one another via Facebook in the 2012 ‘Meet and Seat’ initiative.
Much of the success story stems from a willingness to embrace the risks involved in running new social campaigns, and the Dutch airline has accepted that its latest announcement comes with a pretty big trial-and-error label attached to it too.
As of 28th July, KLM has been offering 24/7 customer support in ten different languages, via its LinkedIn company page. While customer service via social media is becoming a popular pastime for big businesses trying to establish a more rapid and modern method of providing frontline support, LinkedIn has rarely been seen as the most viable network to do this.
Part of the reason is the network’s ethos as a professional connection and recruitment site; however, with a much greater emphasis now being placed on community building and a user database that has past the 300m mark, could it be that KLM is just ahead of the curve with this latest move?
Matthew Bennett, co-founder of social agency, Wolfpack says the announcement proves the airline is looking to increase loyalty among its higher-value, more demanding customers, and sees LinkedIn as the perfect place to be able to foster this:
“It's a smart move. It allows KLM to be on an open, public forum where its high value customers are, business professionals, many of whom travel frequently and who make flight choices based upon expectations of high levels of service. So, the visibility of KLM conducting its business on this platform should build positive brand equity with an important audience of influencers.”
Social media expert Sue Reynolds, on the other hand, believes the airline is in actual fact trying the exact opposite, and attempting to channel customers away from far more ‘public’ forums like Twitter to a less volatile arena:
“My first reaction is that LinkedIn is less visible than Facebook and Twitter yet still as viable a network. Since customers often take to social media to complain, it makes sense from a strategy perspective to have those complaints reside in a LinkedIn thread rather than on a high visibility platform like Facebook.
“This is a unique way to achieve a specific goal – online customer service. Remember, they will also be able to gather data on their specific audience on that page so it’s a good marketing ploy as well.”
Early indications suggest marketing may be the underlying theme behind the page, although it is admittedly only a week or so old. Some users have posted queries that the KLM team has responded to in double-quick time, yet the majority of interactions do not appear to have a traditional customer support theme associated with them.
Matthew Bennett suggests any slow progress will be down to the fact that people need time before they can recognise LinkedIn as a customer service platform:
“The move is almost certainly a sign of things to come for LinkedIn. All social media platforms needs to continually evolve and its a good move that it will no longer be a place to simply showcase your CV or mooch for new business leads.
“Linkedin has recently been pushing into a place where more valuable conversations and connections can take place, so why shouldn't it be a platform where brands can engage and better assist their professional audience?”
About Chris Ward
Chris is Editor of MyCustomer. He is a practiced editor, having worked as a copywriter for creative agency, Stranger Collective from 2009 to 2011 and subsequently as a journalist covering technology, marketing and customer service from 2011-2014 as editor of Business Cloud News. He joined MyCustomer in 2014.