COM0014 – blog post #4 – Working with weaknesses

There are lots of business-to-consumer companies doing interesting things on social media these days, like how Denny’s is cornering the market on weird to appeal to younger demographics…

…or how Oreo pumps out so much fresh, high quality content that it seems like their team never sleeps. (Seriously, 3 brand-new, flashy celeb videos launched on the same day? Who are you people? And yes that is Shaquille O’Neal below doing elaborate circus stunts to dunk his Oreo.)


But one B2C that really blows my mind is Royal Dutch Airlines (also known as KLM). Like many big companies, they offer 24-hour service through their social media channels, but unlike most other companies, they have made concrete commitments to responsiveness, built the infrastructure to support it, and consistently delivered on their promises.

This has positioned them effectively as the airline that cares in an industry that’s riddled with service letdowns. I mean, who hasn’t lost a bag, missed a connecting flight, been overbooked – and then had to deal with customer service people who really couldn’t give a damn? Insult to injury is business as usual for airlines.

So KLM is leveraging social media to set themselves apart. Their first commitment to their customers is to respond to every tweet. Every single tweet. Whether it’s smart-assed, snarky, insulting, demanding, unreasonable or complimentary. Did I mention that they have 2.23 million followers? And they do it in 12 different languages.

Their second big commitment to their customers is to tell them exactly how long they will have to wait to get a response, treating Twitter like the customer service interface it has the potential to be:

Note what they’ve written at the bottom. They update that estimate every 5 minutes so that people aren’t left hanging.

Royal Dutch’s approach shows that they know their industry’s weaknesses and are willing to work their butts off to set themselves apart from the pack. It’s brilliant. And it’s working. There’s nothing more charming than a company that knows its weaknesses and works to overcome them.



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