CAS Case Study No. 3 | Swiss
2012 was a special year for Swiss International Air Lines, Switzerland’s flag carrier airline: It recorded the busiest year in the history of Swiss aviation with almost 16 million passengers. Employing over 8’000 people, Swiss is one of the country’s largest companies and most famous brands. And lucky us, students of Social Media Management class at HWZ, today we got to hear insights from the company’s social media manager, Christian Lüdi. Christian has been in his role since April 2009.
Swiss uses several social media channels to interact with its customers. Its main channels are Twitter (three accounts), Facebook and its own Blog; secondary channels include LinkedIn, YouTube, flyertalk and Instagram. Each department of the company gets involved in social media in one way or the other. For instance, most blog stories are written by employees who don’t necessarily work in the firm’s communications team.
The airline currently has 190’000 fans on Facebook and 43’780 followers on its main Twitter account. The main language used on all platforms is English. Important announcements are written in at least five languages, if not…nine!
Swiss’ social media vision is to entertain existing customers, as well as attract new ones. Its key goals can be summarized as follows: Brand loyalty, Customer retention and Brand awareness.
If you’re still not convinced of how crucial Facebook is to the travel industry or to any industry, for this matter, here are a few facts:
59% of users post a status update about an upcoming vacation.
52% of users like pages specific to an upcoming vacation.
72% of users post vacation photos while traveling.
Quite telling, don’t you think?
One of Swiss’s several responses to the rise of Facebook has been to allow its fans to book flights directly via its Facebook fan page (as shown on the picture to the left). Fans can also search for travel destinations based on a wide range of criteria: ticket prices, weather forecast, holiday activities, etc.
Christian has learned quite a few things since he first started his job:
Social media users do pay attention to special offers.
Posting special offers onto social media platforms does not cost the firm too much time.
Facebook fans and Twitter followers do want exclusive offers not to be found elsewhere.
During the afternoon session, we examined a specific case study related to Swiss’s social media strategy: How Swiss decided to get its local Customer Service Centers and Feedback Management more involved into social media. The Zurich team no longer has to deal with tweets by customers, say, in Japan; instead, such tweets are dealt with by the local call center in Tokyo. This allows Swiss to reply to customers more immediately and in their local language. “Joint tweeting” is made possible thanks to a collaboration tool, CoTweet, which allows every user to see all tweets, replies, and retweets for all three Swiss Twitter accounts.
The main take-away of today’s lecture is that very large companies such as Swiss that have to deal with customers from all over the world need to constantly look for ways to fully integrate social media (new tools in dynamic evolution) into their communications strategies (often too stubbornly static). Definitely not a road without bumps, twists, and turns (see, for instance, the Icelandic volcano eruption in 2010), but one that no firm can avoid driving through.