An Airline that Genuinely Delights Passengers using Social Media

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Social Pros Main Image An Airline that Genuinely Delights Passengers using Social Media

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Greg Hounslow, WestJet
@greghounslow

Greg Hounslow, Emerging Media Advisor at WestJet, joins the Social Pros Podcast this week to discuss fostering a sense of community with social media amongst guests, how social media can enhance customer relations, and the value of giving customers a pleasant surprise every once in a while (and the measurable ROI there).

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Tweetable Moments

“10,000 employees take great pride in how our brand is portrayed.” -@greghounslow (tweet this)

SXSW

Jeff and Zena are heading to South by Southwest this week. You can see Jeff, in the flesh, making a presentation at the Austin Convention Center!

Truly Connecting

Greg Hounslow‘s title at WestJet is Emerging Media Advisor. And while his day-to-day right now involves mostly social media, “there is always something emerging.” Instagram, for example, didn’t exist when he started this job, but now it is a large component of WestJet’s ongoing strategy.

Screen Shot 2014 03 06 at 12.49.56 PM An Airline that Genuinely Delights Passengers using Social Media

“What is this? A plane for ants?! How can we be expected to fly people places if they can’t even fit inside the plane? The aircraft has to be at least three times bigger than this!”
via WestJet Instagram

As time goes on, more and more of WestJet’s guests are using social media. This means that Greg’s team can “use it as a mechanism to get information to people.” From discount tickets to airport delays, WestJet uses social to stay in better contact with its customers. This is especially useful when the #polarvortex forces you to cancel huge amounts of flights at Toronto Pearson Airport.

In that one particularly difficult situation, WestJet put all hands on deck to use social to keep their customers in the loop on every channel imaginable: the WestJet blog, YouTube, Facebook, and more. Even the customer service representatives taking phone calls were directing people to the blog post for the most up-to-date and comprehensive information. That’s an integrated communication strategy.

Social Media Customer Service

The airline industry is complex. “There are so many small details that actually make a difference at the end of the day,” Greg explains. That makes coming from an operational background, or a customer service background, all the more useful.


WestJet’s Christmas Miracle video helped them “fly” onto lots
of new people’s radar in the holiday season of 2013

As a publicly traded company and a regulated industry, WestJet has to conform to industry-regulated standards. This is something we’ve discussed extensively in the past with representatives from financial services companies and from liquor companies.

Greg’s background in operations has helped him achieve success in his current, but very different, role at WestJet. When a customer tweets asking how her bag has possibly gotten lost on a one-hour direct flight, Greg can explain exactly how that might have happened and help her resolve the issue faster.

WestJet posts its Twitter customer service hours right in its Twitter bio. That said, WestJet still considers itself a small company, and Greg and his team truly care that everything runs smoothly. “If something goes sideways at 10pm, my phone starts beeping a lot.” That means that someone from Greg’s team can jump on and take care of things. It is obvious but worth stating that this kind of accessibility would be impossible without social media.

Social Media Number of the Week: 3,274,106

At the time the podcast was recorded, Ellen DeGeneres’ Oscar selfie tweet had 3,274,106 retweets. Actually, over the course of the recording, the tweet earned more than 2,000 more retweets than it had at the beginning.

Samsung has taken advantage of the fact that Ellen’s selfie heard ’round the world (taken with their phone) has become so popular and will donate $3 million to two of Ellen’s favorite charities: St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital and The Human Society of the United States.

“These people are just having a genuinely good time, and that’s what hit people,” Jeff says.

Holy Social!

Another Oscars moment is the focus of Holy Social! this week: John Travolta mangling Idina Menzel’s name on live television. Zena says, “What I love about it is that instantaneously the folks at Slate created this app,” that will mangle your own name for you, Travolta style.

It’s gotten thousands of shares on Facebook and retweets on Twitter — not as many as Ellen’s tweet, surely, but it has still caused quite the stir.

Technology certainly made the 2014 Oscars one for the books.

The Big Two

What’s your one tip for becoming a social pro?
“If you can’t get experience with a big or small company, volunteer your time with a not-for-profit to learn how social media works within the structure of an organization.” This is a great way to distinguish yourself from other applicants.

If you could do a Skype call with any living person, who would it be?
Commander Chris Hadfield, who “brought space into the forefront of social media.”

See you next week!

Related
  • Kathy Klotz-Guest

    Love the WestJet example. Employees should be among a brand’s most rabid fans.

  • http://www.brand.com/blog James R. Halloran

    I really think WestJet’s implementation of social media for their customer service is a wise move. The social sharing app Buffer also uses their Twitter account for the same thing, and it does them wonders.

    When people want answers, they want them as quickly as they can get them. That’s why I think this is a very clever move on their part. It really helps them stand out from their competitors.

  • http://www.linkedin.com/in/markvozzo Mark Vozzo

    Thanks Jay Baer and Westjet for sharing this story. Here is another great video by KLM Airlines and how they used Social Media to delight customers. – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pqHWAE8GDEk I saw this video 2 years ago at Dreamforce. It’s amazing how Social Media is transforming the way we do business.

  • http://www.linkedin.com/in/markvozzo Mark Vozzo

    Hey Jay Baer, I love these industry focused stories – Well done!
    Here is a really old video (maybe you’ve already seen it), but one that really paints a nice vision on where things are headed. I know it’s of a competing airline to WestJet, but I fell it’s complementary to this story as it show the importance of connect staff to other staff and to the customer. Please check out what Virgin America’s vision is on their flights by watching this video – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r3B8YYBKsS8