American Airlines Shares Insights on its Social Media Efforts

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By Tom Smith
To kick-off the 2013 ACI-NA Customer Service Seminar, Jonathan Pierce described American Airlines’ use of social media channels in its customer service program. Over the course of his hour-long presentation on Wednesday, Pierce outlined his thoughts on “being social” and offered advice to the assembled airport customer service managers.

American Airlines puts the customer at the center of its social media operations, he said. His 15-person team is organized so they can answer any customer problem in one place without passing the traveler onto another airline employee. When a customer reaches out to the airline on a social media channel they expect to get service.

“You can’t have a credible relationship without credibility in customer service,” said Pierce. “The customer has a voice and they want to be heard. We will try to continue conversations which will build advocates because these people will talk positive for you.”

Social is a conversation not a transaction, if you have credibility you are engaging in the longer term relationship, he said.

American treats each social media channel as separate with different missions and strategies. The uniform goal, Pierce said, is to develop content that inspires travel. And, something you want to put your name on and share it with friends.

In his advice to others, Pierce said, you need to be authentic, pro-active and real. Nurture advocates and give them access to insights and behind-the-scenes. “They will love it and become stronger advocates for you,” he said.

He suggested that the airports create “shareable, interactive content.” The rule to judge social media content: “Why will they care and will they share?”

Along that line, Pierce said American has formed a Pinterest board on airport art and encouraged airports to post their art to this digital scrapbook.