[Interview] Karlijn Vogel-Meijer, Manager Social Media – KLM, On Brand’s Social Media Strategy

Foto Karlijn

We interviewed Karlijn Vogel-Meijer, KLM’s social media manager, regarding the brand’s over all social media strategies. She mentioned the kind of critical information that matters most to their customers and how they handle client servicing via their Facebook account. She also shared details of KLM’s crisis management strategy in this interview along with the level of spontaneity their proactive social media team shows when a customer posts queries on social media.


How important is social media for an aviation brand?

Very important! Social offers us the opportunity to meet our customers and fans in their own timeline and become part of their world. This is an unique opportunity to build up very strong connection with them!
Is your lost and found service an outcome of the trend you see on your social media? Explain the rationale with which you arrived at this new service. Tell us more about how the service works

We receive over 45K mentions a week via social. These mentions give us very important information about what matters most to customers. One of those issues turned out to be lost and found items. We received a lot of questions on social from customers who forgot items on board or in the lounge. We used to tell them to fill in a form and call us after 5 days to check whether the item was found, even if they knew where they lost it (seat number, flight number, and specific chair in the lounge). We decided to put an employee on Schiphol with an ipad and a smartphone. She made sure that crew called her first if they found something on board. She immediately checked KLM systems to connect owner to item. This way she was able to return an item to an owner, even before the owner knew he/she had lost something! Today the team consists of 15-20 employees, searching for belongings of customers.

More info about the Sherlock team can be found on our blog. Lost and Found is proof of the fact that social is not only nice and engaging but also offers you the opportunity to actually change your company

Tell us how you engage with your target audience via Facebook.

Servicing is the basis of everything we do on social.  A customer/fan can ask us anything, 24/7. We receive 45.000 mentions a week, which lead to approx. 5000 cases (questions that need extra effort, such as lost luggage, rebooking, etc.). We answer in 11 languages, shortly we added Chinese to the list. Next to that we place engaging content. That is content which is relevant and worth sharing. If you do servicing and content right, then you will be able to make money on social. We earn about 25 mln Euros a year on social. Mainly by doing good offers, targeted on a relevant audience. Because, again, if it’s relevant and worth sharing, people will accept commercial offers in their timeline, they are even waiting for it!

Tell us more about your turnaround time when you reply to your customers via your Facebook page. A workflow will help us understand this better. Explain to us about your response time app and how do manage that.

We currently have 150 employees dealing with all the questions we receive. We promise to answer within an hour. On an average, we answer within 23 minutes. But if there is a disruption, planes cancelled due to a storm, waiting times can go up. We receive many questions like: I have been waiting for answer, still no response from KLM. That is why we decided to create a Live service monitor in the header of Facebook and Twitter, showing accurate response times. The response time shown in the header is updated every 5 minutes with data from our Salesforce system.  Salesforce is the system that connects all our social systems. Questions are automatically loaded in and transferred to the service agent that answers in that specific answer. The system monitors the answering times to questions.
How important is your presence on LinkedIn for you as a brand? How does it help you get the best talent across countries vs traditional job sites?

Linkedin is very important and offers a lot of potential. Linkedin connects all working people and a large amount of those travels for business. That is why it is such an important platform for airlines. We offer servicing on Linkedin, place relevant content and offer commercial deals. Our fanbase grows fastly!
Next to that Linkedin is an important platform for getting new talent for the company.

How do you plan your content for your social media? Let’s start with topics that you plan for your blog and how it resonates with the rest of your social presence.

We have an editorial team that is responsible for all engaging content. They create engaging posts and tweets and  are responsible for the content calendar. All campaigns and commercial actions are added to this calendar as well.

Our blog figures as a channel that is used for back ground information regarding KLM. It can be used in campaigns to give back ground information about the campaign.

You social media presence exudes your focus on customer centricity. How important it is for you to stick to this message in all your communications? Does this even apply when you are talking about your proposition on big media? Or is the communications objectives there different from that on social media?

Customer centricity is key. To differ yourself from the competition you have to listen to the customer. Our messages on social media are aligned with our messages on traditional media. Our corporate communications department always make sure we tell the same story everywhere. You can’t do any different in this modern world in which a customer immediately reacts on something that is not congruent!

Do you have a different communications and content strategy keeping in mind the social media patterns of Indians?

We always keep in mind the difference between cultures all around the world. That is why for instance we also have an Indian Facebook page. Our KLM team in India is responsible for the content, within the boundaries of the central social strategy.

What is your crisis communications strategy? How involved does your social media team / content team get in times of crises?

Social media is completely covered in our crisis management plans. It is of utmost importance, as people turn to social instantly in case of crisis. In case of crisis, corporate communications makes sure that all messages on all social platforms are aligned with the messages we send out via other media.

Which social media platform gets you the most attention and the most clicks to your website?

Facebook gets the most attention. However we also focus on Twitter, Linkedin, Youtube, Instagram, Pinterest, Vkontakte in Russia, WeChat and Sina Weibo in China. It is about being there where your customer is, so only focusing on Facebook is not enough.

Is social media more effective in reaching out to your target audience as against the traditional customer service methods of email and toll free numbers? Or is the process completely integrated?

We offer our customers choice. They can send us a letter, e-mail, give us a call or use social media to get in touch with us. We promise to answer within one hour when somebody contacts us through social media. Of course this responsetime is not feasible when we receive a letter. However social media is a motor that has a positive effect on the other servicing channels.

Do you have a CRM system that captures feedback and complaints that you get about KLM and its service via any outward facing channel?

Yes, we work with Radian 6 that gives insight in what is said about KLM or any other search that is relevant to us via approximately 1 billion external sources. We also work with Salesforce that stores all customer contact. In that way we can look back in earlier dialogues with the customer and act accordingly.
How involved are your employees in speaking well about the company that they work for using their personal social media pages? How do you monitor this? Do you have a policy in place to regulate what they speak about your company?

Yes we have policy in place that is spread out widely in the company. KLM is a big company with 30.000 employees. If anything happens that is not allowed we speak to the employee in person and explain why this is not allowed. It is mainly about learning from mistakes.

On the other hand, some colleagues are fantastic bloggers and storytellers. We try to give them the floor whenever possible by for instance our blog.

Who manages your social platforms in India? Do you have a separate team that does it for your externally or is it an in house team?

Our KLM-team in India is responsible for the local Facebook and Twitter account. At headquarters we believe our local colleagues can do better with regard to local flavour than we can in Amsterdam. And they can do sales through these platforms. Servicing through social media is done centrally since this requires extensive knowledge of the KLM product and services.

Do you use your social media presence for improving your ticket sales? Can you explain how you go about doing this?

We believe in a three-step model. First we have to help people through social media. Answer their questions and solve their issues. Secondly we like to engage with our followers, supply them with content they are interested in. And when we do this right, we believe there’s a fundament to use social media for sales purposes. However ticket sales will mostly be offered in a social way. For example ‘Social Offer’ is a concept in which customers can lower the price themselves. The more people join, the lower the price will be (with a minimum level of course).