What Top Airline Brands Are Getting Right
Hitting all the right notes with consumers can be tricky — particularly in a situation like air travel, where they're tired, cranky, and far from at their best. How do top airline brands keep consumers coming back, and what strategies can you borrow no matter what industry you're in?
The NetBase Social Media Industry Report 2017: Airlines offers a snapshot of 60 top global airlines in 2016, analyzing in all languages of communication. The report measures:
- Volume of conversation (as a measure of earned impressions)
- Reach (as a measure of owned impressions)
- Net Sentiment (whether consumer emotions are positive or negative)
- Brand Passion (a weighted average that combines Net Sentiment with Passion Intensity, i.e., the degree of emotion expressed)
These metrics were then averaged to define Social Rank, with the largest, most positive, or most passionate brands ranking first. Let’s take a look at four best practices all brands can apply.
1. Keep an Eye on the Customer Experience
Though Net Sentiment for airlines with first class seating was high, brands like JetBlue and Southwest — which don't offer first class — also got a lot of love. The lesson? You don't have to offer first class seating to be No. 1 in consumers' hearts — you just have to create a memorable experience.
And this is just one area where competitive intelligence is readily available on social media, since travelers talk about their experience with one airline brand in relation to others.
2. Remember the Little Things
Airlines have a bigger job than simply serving passengers in the air. Whether it's a ticketing agent, gate agent, or flight attendant, all members of your brand's team are tasked with soothing travelers frazzled by the hectic pace of all that comes before they set foot on an aircraft, or even the airport.
Booking, packing, getting through security — even when these things go seamlessly they can be a hassle. Factor in delays and anything that isn't seamless, and your in-flight Wi-Fi going down becomes a back-breaking straw.
Wi-Fi was something that stuck out as an opportunity for airlines with high satisfaction in other areas — like Hawaiian Airlines. Though passengers gave positive marks to their airline lounge, and super high marks to their in-flight food, the lack of Wi-Fi brought sentiment way down.
But especially when sentiment is strong in other areas, negative sentiment simply shines a light on an opportunity for your brand to rise up to meet consumer expectations — and best the competition in the process.
3. Remember Customer Service Isn't Just About Fixing Problems
When things go wrong, it's imperative to get out in front and soothe ruffled feathers before social complaints go viral. Just as important, however, is using social insights to predict problems before they occur, and to manage customer volume at its peak.
Alaska Airlines is one example of a brand using time of day to staff their customer service department — so there are enough representatives available when customer activity is at its highest.
Think outside the box on this and you can really impress your audience. For instance, what if your analytics show complaints regularly coming through when passengers are hungry? Now imagine geo-fencing an airport terminal to analyze behaviors around a restaurant and wait times. With this kind of intel, you can knock passengers' socks off if you respond in just the right way.
Being proactive about customer service just might save you from having to put out a fire down the road. The insights are there — so use them.
4. Know What Consumers Think About Everything
Social media listening is all about being proactive. When you know what issues have travelers most aggrieved — like cancellations, delays, and lost luggage — you can work to improve these areas. At the same time, you can reinforce what's already working well, reminding your audience what they like about you, while ensuring you care about their complaints and are working on them.
If you're an airline brand, the NetBase Social Media Industry Report 2017: Airlines has done a lot of the work for you, with regard to where you stand against competitors in a number of key areas. But what you do with that information is what matters. And any brand can perform the same analysis to see where you stand with consumers, and what challenges you need to answer first.
Just remember, social data is out there, available to all. If you don't put it to work, your competitors surely will.