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Social Media takes Charge when Volcanic Ashes disrupts Air Travel

In times of emergencies social media has evidently become the mainstream media. When Eyjafjallajökull, a big volcano in Iceland causes mayhem in Europe last week, stranded people look to social media for solutions, suggestions or simply just news. Tweets appear as fast as a second if you search for “Volcano” on twitter. Seemingly the airline industry is the worst affected by nature’s fury, as flights are delayed with no assurance of when their services can be restored.  As this volcano sends out ashes in the sky, flights get indefinitely delayed sending travelers to looks for other alternatives, rescheduling flights, hotel rooms, and book train tickets or even rent cars. Few airlines have been clever enough to stay in touch with the estranged passengers through their social networks while some do not bother adding to their customer’s anger.

This is a snap shot of Virgin Atlantic’s facebook page that updates their customers on the current status of their flights. With no clue themselves this is the best they can do to inform their customers. This is a live example of terrific use of the power of social media through customer engagement. Virgin Atlantic may not have the solutions to #volcano, but they are staying connected to the people who matter the most to them through facebook. A recent global social media study proves that over 70% of companies are using Facebook to engage with their customers, capture their perceptions and behaviors.It is now one of the key business destinations in the virtual space.

Virgin Atlantic facebook snapshot

KLM also took a proactive approach to caution their passengers not to go to the airport instead check flight status on their website using their facebook fanpage.

KLM Facebook snapshot

Coming from the same company on the other hand Air France chose to remain reluctant to keep their customers informed about this unforeseen phenomenon and basic formalities on refunds and rebooks.

Air France Facebook Snapshot

As #volcano continues to erupt and blinden the air space, companies (airlines specially) should make use of this and appease these aggrieved customers thus demonstrating real-time crisis management and creating a long term goodwill. KLM and Virgin Atlantic have been swift in being approachable to their customers.

The big lesson here – Companies, enterprises that hold themselves back from responding, engaging with their clients through social media are loosing a vital thread of communication and goodwill. “No social media” can be compared with “no website”, if we turn back our clocks”

Follow us on @iridiuminter or my personal twitter @sbharatam.



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