Tuesday, December 4, 2012
Let’s face it; the holidays can be a really stressful time. Last-minute shopping, decorating, traveling, cooking, hosting, and the coordination of everything that comes with making the season merry and bright... It all translates to increased pressure for brands to provide outstanding service to their sometimes-frazzled customers. In this 2-part post, ExactTarget client JetBlue provides their best advice for the holiday season.
The ATA estimates that 47 million passengers will travel during the winter holiday season (between December 13 and January 2) which directly follows a Thanksgiving weekend where airlines saw most flights at 90-100% capacity. As one of the top airline carriers in the country, with service to 75 locations mostly within the continental US, JetBlue is familiar with this holiday rush – and the strain it puts on travelers, many of whom are first-time or infrequent flyers. They make it their mission to alleviate that stress and put some cheer back into holiday travel using both offline and online methods – including social media.
How do they do it? Laurie Meacham, social media support leader at JetBlue, shares her best holiday social media advice:
Knowing that many holiday travelers are traveling either for the first time or the only time that year, Meacham and her team expect a higher volume of questions coming in. This year, over Thanksgiving, they met that need proactively by using a hashtag (#TDayTravelTips) to tweet information that would make traveling easier for passengers.
Traveling with food? Pies fly, but maybe leave the cranberry sauce home. TSA on holiday travel: 1.usa.gov/QsdgMD #TDayTravelTips— JetBlue Airways (@JetBlue) November 20, 2012
Some of the tips came from their team; others were retweeted from their followers. Meacham says the point wasn’t only to help JetBlue customers, but to start current, relevant conversations with people – even if those people were not traveling that day or not traveling with JetBlue. That investment will pay off in the long run when those people have to choose the airline they’d rather fly with for their next Thanksgiving trip.
Cover Your Bases
It’s true that holidays lead to trips – but not just for customers. Many (already stretched thin) social media teams are facing looming gaps in their coverage as members request vacations to be with their own families. How do you deal with this when you know your highest volume may be on a day your whole team’s at home with the family?
Meacham suggests an agile approach. First you need to understand your own industries high volume days – for travel that tends to be the days leading up to and just after an actual holiday. Create a plan for going into high-volume mode. For JetBlue it’s a collaborative approach where some of the team will focus on listening and assigning, and others on responding. As those critical days progress, be ready to flip the switch into that mode when needed.
She approaches coverage on the actual holiday in the same way. JetBlue schedules coverage as fairly as possible, assigning blocks of time to each person to monitor the social inbox and asking team leaders to stay in touch throughout. Then she and the other team leaders make a judgment call as the day progresses adjusting coverage as needed. She also suggests relying on mobile apps to discreetly, and quickly, check on activity throughout the day.
Watch for more holiday tips from JetBlue in Part 2 of this post!