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Author: Sonam Singh | 06/27/16

Social Media Influence on Airline Passengers

Social media has changed the way passengers interact with airlines. New age “connected travelers” are tech savvy and well-informed. Nearly, 60% of international passengers use social media as they travel, according to the Passenger IT trends survey 1. Though the traditional CRMs are in place in various organizations, social CRMs are gaining momentum to cater to the needs of connected travelers.

Examples of customers taking to social media to express their dissatisfaction are plenty and accumulating quickly. Smartphones have made this an omnipresent reality. Information travels extremely fast and if brands are not cautious, the damage done to their reputation is irreparable. Over 15 million views of YouTube video “United Breaks Guitars” by frustrated passenger Dave Carroll emphasizes the power of connected travelers 2. Some reports suggested a negative influence on the airline stock price due to this viral post 3. It was, arguably, a wakeup call for airlines who had underestimated the reach and influence of social media.

In an attempt to get out in front of these issues, airlines have gone social to enhance the experience of their passengers. Passengers can interact with the airlines at every point of their travel starting from planning, reservation, check in, in flight, baggage and post flight. They can track their baggage, get updates on flight schedules, voice their concerns and get them addressed through various social media platforms. The widespread use of social media has now made it a part of every airline strategy in some shape or form. CRM has evolved from just collecting and managing data to delivering real-time customer engagement.

With plenty of social media platforms available to users and the amount of chatter occurring across all these channels, airlines find it extremely challenging to engage with customers in real time. Studies have shown that around 60% of social media users expect a reply to their concerns on the same day and 25% expect it within an hour 4. There are a plenty of social media monitoring tools which help airlines in this endeavor. Airlines are investing huge amounts to manage their social presence and increase the efficiency of their CRM agents. Their efforts are directed towards enhancing customer satisfaction.

Existing social media monitoring tools and social CRMs are helping airlines in building long lasting, intimate and elastic relationships with their customers. Nevertheless, it is still a challenge to understand the exact sentiment of the social media chatter among mixed feelings of passengers. Even more difficult to automate the incident management and route customer concerns to the appropriate agents for speedy resolution. Though the analytics are becoming more intelligent with every passing hour, interpretation of analysis is still done by individual analysts. Customer concerns travel through series of departments before they are resolved delaying the reply. What could help is a tool that can understand the patterns in customer behavior, generate recommendations to resolve their concerns and possibly automate replies. This can significantly reduce the request resolution time and arm CRM agents with the required information to resolve customer concerns quickly. Mindtree offers a solution to the above mentioned challenges. Its PaxPulse platform is a cloud-based ‘Social Intelligence & Recommendation Platform’ for the airline industry that recommends specific actions based on passenger behavior analysis and integrates actions and service requests into organization’s existing CRM system. Learn more at

  1. SITA passenger IT trends survey, 2014
  2. YouTube, Dave Carroll’s viral video “United Breaks Guitars”, July 2009
  3. Times Online, Revenge is best served cold – on YouTube, July 2009
  4. Social Times, How social has changed customer relationship management, Jun 2014

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