July 15, 2019 / 9:30 AM / a day ago

Get customer communications airborne with messaging

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines is pioneering direct, one-to-one customer communications with its fresh and innovative approach to messaging. 

“Customers’ expectations have evolved massively,” says Martine Van Der Lee, Social Media Director at KLM. “Today, our customers expect an instant response whenever they ask a question.”

"KLM sends 65% of flight updates, 40% of boarding passes and 20% of booking confirmations via messaging apps"

 But just being quick on the draw isn’t enough. Answers must also be relevant, add value, improve the experience, and enhance convenience. It’s a tough ask, but Messenger has become a vital component in KLM’s ability to meet and exceed these ambitious goals.

 Direct messaging

 KLM started using Messenger in 2015 and quickly gained an insight into how customers wanted to communicate with the company.

Van Der Lee explains: “We had our Facebook pages where we engaged with customers but, in a few countries, engagement levels were quite low. As a test, we activated the private message button on the page and our volumes went up tremendously. We realised that our customers wanted to communicate with us in a direct conversation.”

 Today, the airline sends 65% of flight updates, 40% of boarding passes and 20% of booking confirmations via messaging apps. As soon as these communications go out, they generate responses, putting KLM in direct conversation with its customers.

KLM has the largest social media team in the world with 350 agents

Messaging enables more personalised and informal communications, with stickers, emojis, memes and selfies. Adding this extra level of personality to communications strengthens the underlying customer relationship.

Immediacy is another key factor. When KLM sends out boarding updates or information on a flight’s gate number, some customers reply with a selfie of them boarding the plane. Others can’t find the gate and need in-the-moment help.

Responding immediately with relevant, helpful and good-humoured replies is incredibly powerful and defuses any stress or anxiety. It gives customers the information they need and builds their confidence in KLM’s commitment to help them on their way.  

Improving experiences

On occasion, when flights are cancelled, KLM uses Messenger to minimise disruption, reduce pressure on front-line operations, and make the experience better for affected customers.

Van Der Lee says: “If you re-book, we can send your new boarding pass automatically to Messenger and there’s nothing you need to do. If you’re waiting at the airport, we can turn that boarding pass into a voucher, so that you can have a free cup of coffee while you’re waiting.”

"Messaging has become a central part of KLM's strategy and is one that the company continues to build on"

By using Messenger to reduce the number of customers contacting the sales desk, KLM frees up capacity to deliver a better experience overall, and not just to those who are social media savvy.   

Taking control

Customers can control the communications they receive via Messenger. For example, if they’re thinking about going to New York and have a budget of €500, they can adjust price alert settings, so they only receive details of flights to this destination and within their budget.

The result is that customers get relevant alerts and the airline improves its conversion rate on promotions.

KLM has it's main hub at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol

KLM continues to explore more innovative ways to use Messenger. It knows the first message that passengers send to loved ones on arrival is: ‘I’ve landed.’ The airline also knows that customers can worry if they can’t send it due to a dead battery or signal outage. It’s now working on ways to make sure this never happens and to give customers the comfort of staying in touch with family, friends and colleagues.

Messaging has become a central part of KLM’s strategy and is one that the company continues to build on.

Van Der Lee concludes by saying: “KLM is famous for its customer care and personal approach. When customers think of KLM, we want them to know they’re in good hands. We use social media, and Messenger specifically, to provide the best possible experience.”

The Reuters editorial and news staff had no role in the production of this content. It was created by Reuters Plus, part of the commercial advertising group. To work with Reuters Plus, contact us here.

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