Case Studies

See how other companies’ successful social business initiatives are aligned with their overall business objectives.

  • Social media customer service at SWISS

    Swiss International Air Lines (SWISS) currently serves 74 destinations in 38 countries all over the world, from its Zurich hub and the other Swiss international airports of Basel and Geneva. Switzerland’s national airline comprising a fleet of 92 aircraft and carrying some 15 million passengers a year, is part of the Lufthansa Group and a member of Star Alliance. The mission of SWISS is to provide quality air services linking Switzerland with Europe and the world (Swiss International Air Lines, n.d.).

    SWISS is dedicated to providing the excellence in all its products and services. Its manageable size enables it to remain as close as possible to its customers and meet their individual needs. Customer support therefore plays a crucial role. By making use of social network sites such as Twitter and Facebook, the company is able to further cement its relationships with both its current and its prospective customers.

    SWISS’ social media initiative started in May 2009 when the company launched its presence on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr. Initially, these social media activities were managed by just one person employed in the marketing department. However, it was clear from the beginning that with engagement on these platforms the company wanted to pursue higher goals than just the promotion of branding and sales. The intention was to provide interactive customer service via social media (Christian Lüdi, personal interview, 1st March 2013).

    Since then, the amount of communication on Twitter and Facebook has grown to a level where it can no longer be handled by marketing alone. Moreover, the increasing demand for multi-lingual, 24/7 customer support has forced the airline to integrate social media into their existing service framework in order to provide quick and reliable customer service. Today, the SWISS customer support centre in Basel is responsible for all customer-related enquiries in the social web. To enable them to handle these enquiries, customer care agents were brought up to speed on social media and received training in how to create authentic, media-appropriate dialogues. An external customer interaction centre in South Africa is responsible for customer interaction in social media outside of the regular business hours enabling SWISS to offer extensive and continuous support on Twitter and Facebook.

    Since the beginning of its social media activity in 2009, SWISS has not only won several prizes for its outstanding customer service in the social media but is also considered a best practice company in the service industry.

    The success of SWISS providing customer service and feedback management on social media channels is based on several key points:

    • Gain support from top management for customer service initiatives in social media.
    • Engage in fast, reliable and authentic service dialogues on social media, on par with the client’s needs.
    • Implement local management of customer requests and feedback, ensuring that customers receive timely responses in the local language.
    • Remain flexible and update internal processes to meet the changing needs of customer support services.
    • Explore possibilities to offer existing products and services on new channels.

    Swiss International Air Lines (n.d.). Our company: facts & figures. Retrieved May 2, 2013, from http://www.swiss.com/web/EN/about_swiss/company/Pages/facts_figures.aspx

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