KLM’s 1 Hour Social Media Guarantee Fails the Test

As we all know, there are some airlines that do a good job of responding to customers via social media channels and there are others that just don’t. Then there’s KLM, which has decided to go above and beyond and guarantee a response within 1 hour to any Twitter or Facebook post. ANY tweet or post? In the words of Barney Stinson . . . challenge accepted. Unfortunately, KLM failed miserably.

First, I had to make sure I understood the limits of this thing. After speaking to some PR folks, I found that if you tweet @KLM or leave a message on the airline’s Facebook page, then KLM will respond within an hour. This doesn’t include country-specific KLM handles, like @KLM_US, so I had to limit my search. (Those will only respond during business hours.)

I asked if this only guaranteed a response to questions, but it sounds like KLM is trying to respond to just about everything that comes in the door. This is what I was told:

Anyone in the world can send a tweet or leave a message on Facebook and there will be a response personally within one hour, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. . . . As for sarcastic questions and complaints, KLM responds with apologies and tries to remedy the error.

Ok, I get it, but what if it isn’t a complaint and just a random statement? I asked for clarification:

No it doesn’t even have to be a question to get a response! If KLM is in the tweet KLM will respond if they can help.

Hmm, so “if they can help,” huh? That would seem to limit it to some extent, but that would’t stop me from trying. I opted to start with probably the least likely thing to get a response.

My KLM Tweet

Seemed like a good way to see if KLM really would respond to EVERY tweet. And it didn’t. I never heard a word. I guess that’s not too surprising – it was just a random statement. I forgot about my quest and then picked it up again yesterday with two more tries. In the middle of the night Amsterdam time (anyone can do it during business hours), I sent a couple tweets. I thought I’d really put KLM to the test.

I created a throwaway account to see if the airline would respond to anyone, just in case my account was flagged for response for some reason. (This was pitched to me by a PR agency, so I figured they’d be watching @crankyflier.) This account has no followers, no tweets, and no profile pic. It’s clearly just a trash account. I looked at the time, found a comment that would make sense (the flight to Houston left just under an hour after I sent it), and put it out there with bad grammar and punctuation just for effect.

KLM Tweet Failure 1

I got nothing. I stopped looking after an hour because by then, the flight would have already left and a response would have been worthless. So I thought I’d go easy on KLM and throw out a softball just to get a basic response. This tweet I sent from my @crankyflier account asking a basic, straightforward, easy question, and if they did have my Twitter account flagged for response, it would pop right up.

KLM Finally Responds

It took a little over 3 hours before I received a response with the most unhelpful answer ever. KLM and Delta aren’t even in the same terminal at LAX. Even if Delta does staff the KLM counter, it’s a KLM counter and KLM needs to know what hours it operates. Wow, this sucks. KLM really is not doing this right.

I was particularly bugged by the 3 hour response time. Maybe Twitter was just suffering through delays. Yeah, right. There was no fail whale to be found, but just in case, I sent an airline that knows how to run social media a tweet.

Delta Tweets it Right

As you can see, within 6 minutes, I had my response. Thank you, Delta, for really doing an awesome job with this. But let’s get back to KLM. That one hour thing is a guarantee, right? So I should get something since they failed so miserably.

Bzzt. Wrong answer. It’s a hollow guarantee that’s not backed up by anything. And a guarantee that’s not backed up by anything isn’t much of a guarantee at all. So, kudos to KLM for putting together a great, ambitious effort. But you guys really blew it in the implementation.

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