Topic of the Week: Is it Smart to Publicize a Social Media Response Time?


KLM has long been heavily involved in social media, but last week it didn’t something interesting. It started publishing the amount of time it will take for people to get a response. When I looked, here’s what Twitter showed.

KLM Response Time

A 31 minute response time seemed strangely precise. But after KLM failed my test of their 1 hour guarantee two years ago, I had to give it a shot. Sure, enough, my question was answered in a mere 22 minutes.

KLM Conversation

This can certainly backfire, but is there enough benefit for the airline to make it worth updating this number constantly? (It updates every 5 minutes.)

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12 comments on “Topic of the Week: Is it Smart to Publicize a Social Media Response Time?

  1. Enquiries on twitter are very similiar to phoning a call centre. A good (but very busy) call centre will give the following message to those hanging on the phone “We value your call and will answer you as soon as possible. You are a queue position number 9 and we expect to answer your call within the next 11 minutes”.
    Twitter doesn’t have quite the same urgency pressure – people can be doing other things while waiting for a response, but providing some sort of (varying) time commitment to a response encourages customers to maintain contact.

  2. it would be nice to know how long to wait for a response. I have had instant responses and ones that have taken an hour. By setting the expectation, even low, KLM is giving customers a better idea than what they have in their head!

  3. I think this is a brilliant idea – as long as KLM can keep the promise. As Noah above said, as long as the set an expectation they can at least match (and hopefully beat), I think people will be satisfied. If, however, they can’t meet the timeframes they set, that will just upset people more.

  4. The response time is strangely precise because they update it as they go on. Currently its at 11 minutes.

    I’m really interested in what software they’ve got generating that information. Since they’re updating it every five minutes, they’re probably doing something like looking at the oldest unanswered tweet versus the tweets answered per minute in the last five and doing a little math.

    Its a nice simple innovation on twitter, but it is something we’ve had on call queues forever and a half.

    That being said, I still can’t make heads or tails out of their response. Its good they got it back to you in 22 minutes, but it’d be nice if it made sense..

  5. Cranky, KLM didn’t answer your question. I would rather wait an hour for an actual answer than receive a tweet in 22 minutes that has no helpful information in it.

  6. Oh strange. This was a two part response and the second one is the only one that showed up in the conversation. KLM did respond and it made sense. Part 1 was here:

    It said “@crankyflier Unfortunately not, Brett. We expect the upgrade process to be completed in April 2014. At this time we cannot confirm >>”

      1. Nick – Yep, though to be fair, I didn’t really care about the answer anyway. I just wanted to test the system.

    1. Oh, ok that makes sense now! :) Also, it’s interesting how KLM updates the time posted on that Twitter picture too. For instance, mine says, “We expect to reply within 21 minutes” as of now.

  7. People seem to be thinking that this is a promise, NOT a calculation based on previous interactions.

    I run a software company where we have trouble tickets. We implemented a system similar to this, when a customer is entering a ticket, we mention the time that it took us to close the last 15 tickets. However, we include a disclaimer that this is not a promise but an estimation based on previous tickets. More complicated issues may take more time to resolve.

    As for them updating the number, it takes no effort on their part – it’s probably part of their Twitter CRM system that generates the image and then uses the Twitter API to change their background image once every 5 minutes. No work required.

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