Airlines show how keeping your Twitter service open two hours longer can boost its customer service effectiveness by 25%

Airlines show how keeping your Twitter service open two hours longer can boost its customer service effectiveness by 25%

An analysis of 35 top airline brands on Twitter shows how accounts that stay open two hours later can make a real difference in ensuring customer service is rapid and consistent. If brands must operate a limited Twitter service, extending it by two hours in the evening can result in a drastic improvement in responsiveness.

WaveMetrix’ investigations into how promptly brands respond to consumers on Twitter have shown that consistency is just as important as speed and prompt responses can drive positive purchase intent buzz. With investment in Twitter as a customer service tool varying from brand to brand, WaveMetrix looked at how much of an effect limited ‘opening hours’ have on responsiveness.

WaveMetrix monitored response times for 35 airline brand Twitter handles. Analysis reveals that limiting opening hours on Twitter creates a backlog that makes service uneven throughout the day. This has a significant effect on how quickly brands can respond to customers. Staying open until 7pm rather than closing at 5pm can markedly improve customer service response times. Handles that stay open until 7 or 8pm answer 24% more customers in under an hour and keep 8% less waiting for over six hours. 21% of all customers who are kept waiting for six hours or longer tweeted between the hours of 5 and 7.

Consumers tweet at airline brands fairly consistently from 9am – 9pm:

Density of tweets @ airlines on Twitter by hour

Density of tweets @ airlines on Twitter by hour

  • 77% of all tweets occur between 9am and 9pm: timezones for each of the 35 handles covered were aligned to compare tweet volumes through the day and night, worldwide. Tweets are distributed fairly evenly between these times - this broad spread (likely due to consumers who have changed timezones or are up early/late to catch flights) shows the importance of round the clock Twitter support, if consistent customer service is to be provided

Consumers tend to be kept waiting if they post in the evening:

Density of tweets for those kept waiting longer than 6 hours for a reply

Density of tweets for those kept waiting longer than 6 hours for a reply

  • Almost 60% of all tweets where the consumer had to wait over six hours for a reply were posted between 4 and 9pm: this is due to limited opening hours, which mean consumers tweet after the Twitter account has closed for the day and must wait until the following morning for a response. A third of the 35 handles covered close at 5pm, missing a high density block of tweets from 5pm – 10pm.

Twitter handles with limited hours face a backlog, but 24-7 accounts have no trouble keeping up:

Responsiveness per hour for brands running a limited Twitter service

Responsiveness per hour for brands running a limited Twitter service

  • Brands running a limited service decline in effectiveness throughout the day: fourteen of the handles covered run a limited Twitter service. Limited opening hours mean that community managers start work in the morning with a backlog of tweets to deal with. This has a knock-on effect for dealing with new tweets throughout the day, meaning that response rates decline sharply from 3pm onwards. Over the 24 hour period, only 43% of replies were made in under an hour (and 30% took longer than six hours)

Responsiveness per hour for brands running a 24-7 Twitter service

Responsiveness per hour for brands running a 24-7 Twitter service

  • 24-7 Twitter services provide a consistent service whatever the time: 21 of the brands covered run an unrestricted Twitter service. On average, at least four fifths of replies are made in under an hour, no matter what the time of day. Some handles are especially effective, particularly Delta’s dedicated @DeltaAssist customer service account which ensures that, day or night, 96% of all replies are made in under one hour and 100% in under six

Overall responsiveness by opening hours

Overall responsiveness by opening hours

  • EasyJet and AirFrance (open until 8pm and 7pm respectively) suggest that there is a happy middle: if resources are limited and brands must commit to limited operating hours on Twitter, extending them by just one or two hours could result in greatly increased effectiveness. 21% of all those kept waiting for 6+ hours for a response tweeted between 5 and 7pm.
  • Of the fourteen handles covered that operated with restricted hours, ten were only open from 9am – 5pm: this means they miss the 21% entirely and had to deal with them in the morning, causing a significant backlog that could be avoided by staying open slightly later.

Our next article will investigate individual accounts to show how performance varies from brand to brand and what particular strategies are proving effective.

Graphs show aggregated data from Aug 20 – 27 for 35 airline Twitter handles: @AerLingus, @AirAsia, @airfrance, @AmericanAir, @British_Airways, @BritishAirways, @cathaypacific, @Delta, @DeltaAssist, @easyJet, @EtihadAirways, @Finnair, @FinnairHelps, @FlyAirNZ, @flyPAL, @HawaiianAir, @JetBlue, @KLM, @KoreanAir_KE, @lufthansa, @Lufthansa_USA, @Monarch, @omanair, @QantasAirways, @qatarairways, @Qfcustomercare, @SingaporeAir, @SouthwestAir, @TAMAirlines, @ThaiAirways, @TurkishAirlines, @united, @USAirways, @VirginAtlantic, @VirginAustralia 

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