ROI of Social? How about $25m Annually…

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KLM owes a huge thank you to Eyjafjallajökull.

Oh, you don’t remember our Icelandic friend? The volcano that erupted in 2010 which left thousands of passengers stranded in the wake of cancellations?

Perhaps it’s little known history by now, but Eyjafjallajökull marked the beginning of what’s now a $25 million-a-year profit center for KLM. With phone channels busy, frantic passengers started reaching out to airlines via Facebook and Twitter. KLM had the foresight to call in a volunteer team of 100 people, and the rest is history.

The Dutch giant went on to innovate with things like “KLM Surprises,” which surprised passengers with gifts at their departure gates based on clues left on their social media channels. Now, KLM has a full-time staff of 150 dedicated to social, handling about 70,000 queries a week in 14 languages. Twitter is the most popular channel, but the airline has started to get involved with messengers like WeChat and Facebook-owned WhatsApp as well.

A far cry from the emergency response days of just 5 years ago, the airline now says that each of those 150 people represents an annual revenue of $170,000–or upwards of $25 million for the company. This includes full managing bookings via social media, up to and including airfare queries (whereby KLM can provide a direct link to a payment page).

Are we still skeptical about the ROI that a well-thought-out social media strategy can bring? Read more from VentureBeat, here.

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Customer Engagement Strategy for the Airline Industry