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The Social Playing Field: American Airlines Comes Up to the Plate

Marie Rose
By Marie Rose on Aug 9, 2012 2:49:00 PM

Who can you turn to for great social service, and who’s likely to leave you in the dark?

With social customer service taking off, and more and more companies starting to engage with their customers through social networks, it’s time to give social customer service champions the recognition they deserve!

Today we’re recognizing American Airlines as a social service all-star. Headquartered in Texas, the internationally known airline has hubs all over the United States. Recently, AA has begun using the Twitter handle @AmericanAir for both promotional and customer service purposes, communicating with their customers about deals and contests, and answering any questions and complaints sent their way. It’s a space passengers can turn to for everything they need.

American Airlines checks plenty of boxes for social customer service best practice. Here are just a few of the things that set the company apart from the pack and allows them to offer such a high level of service and support:

  • The airline established a unique personality on Twitter that fits in with its brand image of being genuine and upbeat. This means AA customers receive a consistent experience that they love.
  • Every tweet from American Airlines’ social customer service team is friendly, professional, and tailored to each customer’s request. The team always issues an apology for legitimate complaints.
  • American Airlines offers out-of-hours customer service via Twitter. Agents are available to contact an impressive 18 hours a day – from 6am to midnight.
  • Many of the agents operating @AmericanAir are brought in from other customer service areas at American Airlines. New agents are trained by shadowing experienced senior team members, in order to learn the best ways to communicate with customers via social media.
  • The social customer service team has a set goal to respond to every tweet that requires an answer within 10 minutes. This actually exceeds the average consumer’s expectations for Twitter service, which is within 2 hours.

American Airlines is clearly an all-star when it comes to social customer service, but what about room for improvement? Of course, there’s always something. Our tip for AA would be to start prioritizing customer requests by urgency of problem, not just time. For example, an issue with a delayed flight or missing baggage may be more important than someone making a general query about baggage allowance. It’s tricky to know when to break the ‘next in line’ philosophy, but with over 20% of consumers using social media for customer service tweeting ‘in-store’ at the time of issue, it’s important to resolve some issues quicker than others. The right software can help to manage priority messages so that time-sensitive issues are dealt with first.

We’re happy to name American Airlines a Social Customer Service All-Star – they do an exceptional job with social customer service!

Do you think that American Airlines is a leader in social customer service? Are there any companies that you think do a great job in this field? Or are there any you think need a push in the right direction? We’re interested to hear your opinions in the comments below.

Got any suggestions for what you’d like to hear from us? Send your thoughts to marie@conversocial.com or @Conversocial. We’re always looking for new ideas.

Topics: Best Practices, Airline, Crisis management

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