Three cool things companies are doing with Social Media

This week’s blog is taking inspiration from Useful Social Media‘s conference on Social Media for Customer Service that I was at last week.  There was a lot of discussion about high-level topics like which department should own Social strategy, contingency planning, and whether Social Media replaces or adds to contact via traditional channels…….but today I just want to share three cool things I heard about for the first time last week, and thought more people should know about.  The three companies I’m going to call out here for their creative and helpful uses of Social Media are KLM, The Met Office, and giffgaff.


KLM: Social seat reservations

Sixteen companies presented over the two days (including big brands such as Microsoft, BT and Nissan), but KLM stood out to me as being the most advanced with their Social Media strategy.  They seemed to be at least a year ahead of most other companies there, and it was especially evident in the way they’ve integrated Social Media into some of their core business functions.  The best example of this is a service you can sign up to which allows you to choose in advance who you’ll be sitting beside on your KLM flight.

It’s called ‘Meet & Seat’, and this innovative service allows you to link your Facebook or LinkedIn profile to your flight reservation and view the profiles of any fellow travellers who have also signed up to the service.  As KLM phrase it on their website, “you can then find out about interesting people who will be on board your KLM flight, such as other passengers attending the same event as you at your destination”; and then you can reserve a seat beside the person of your choice.


Check out KLM’s ‘Meet & Seat’ promo video below:


Brilliantly innovative, and damn impressive from a business point of view that they’ve made this level of commitment to bringing something entirely new to their customers.  It does raise an entirely new question of Social etiquette though… it bad manners to change your seat reservation after you see who’s reserved the seat beside you?!


The Met Office: #cloudywithsunnyspells

I should probably point out here that The Met Office weren’t actually presenting at the conference.  I found out about this one from a fellow attendee (from The Met Office) who was sitting at my table; and this was before the conference had even started!

In an effort to reach an audience who otherwise might not consider their services, The Met Office have set up a Twitter feed (@metoffice) which provides personal weather forecasts ‘On Demand’.  It’s not complicated – it’s just a guy sitting answering tweets about the weather – but it’s exceptionally helpful!


Forecasts 'On Demand' via Twitter, courtesy of @metoffice


I’ve tweeted them a couple of times when I was curious what the weather was going to be like, and received a quick response both times.  On neither occasion would I have ever thought of searching on the internet for a weather forecast, but I loved the convenience of being able to send a quick tweet from my phone and carry on with what I was doing while someone else did the work.  I actually tweeted them as I was boarding my flight home from the conference asking what the weather would be like when I landed, and my phone was buzzing with a response before the “phones off” announcement on the plane.

Well done to The Met Office for embracing Social Media and using it to gain traction with a new audience.


giffgaff: Customers helping customers

giffgaff are a mobile phone network provider, who differentiate themselves in the market by being an ‘online-only’ company.  There’s no Contact Centre answering customer queries and complaints; no phone support what-so-ever.  I’ve included them in this blog post because I’m so impressed with the way they’ve built and utilised their online Community forums.  giffgaff’s customer support processes are based almost entirely on customers helping other customers.  There are always at least a few hundred users logged in to their forums – the majority of them ready and waiting to answer any questions that are posted by existing or potential giffgaff customers.  They’re so vigilant in fact, that the average time it takes for a question to be answered is just 70 seconds.  And that’s night or day…..any time.  70 seconds!

In a blunt (but nice) way of describing a key reason behind the success of their Community Forums, giffgaff’s CRM Manager Claire Kavanagh explained, “geeks love to be involved and asked what they think”. She’s right, we do!  As well as incorporating Community suggestions into their product ranges, giffgaff also find other ways to show how much they appreciate their regular forum contributors.  This ranges from cashback incentives for users who get the most positive feedback on their forum posts, to inviting forum regulars to the staff Christmas party!

The Community giffgaff have fostered deserves to be held up as an example for other companies to learn from.  As well as delivering significant cost savings, their ‘customers helping customers’ approach to Customer Service provides a great customer experience.  giffgaff’s Customer Satisfaction and Net Promoter scores back this up, with both being above the industry average; and their existing customers remain just as satisfied as new ones.


To end this week’s blog I’ll leave you with this thought:

BT’s first foray into the world of Twitter was to respond to something negative The Streets’ Mike Skinner tweeted about them.  I wonder if they told him to “dry your eyes mate” when his BT broadband went down……




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