Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) has won an award for its innovative use of Facebook to keep its customers updated during the volcanic ash-cloud crisis which paralyzed airline operations throughout Europe in April.
SAS won the award for “Best use of social media in a crisis communications category” in the SimpliFlying Awards of Excellence in Social Media. The award was presented to the airline in London on October 1, at a ‘Social media for the aviation industry’ conference organized by SimpliFlying.
The award honors Scandinavian Airlines’ work to provide customers with instant communications via Facebook during the ash-cloud crisis in April, which saw hundreds of thousands of passengers stranded across the world.
“For us the most important thing was to help all our customers that were stranded, which meant we had to be proactive and approach them in a non-traditional way,” says Christina Ericsson, SAS’ director, online strategy and communications. “Facebook created the opportunity to have a dialogue with thousands of customers and keep them continuously update through this crisis.”
Adds Ericsson: “We immediately created a Facebook team that worked almost around the clock to reply to all customer queries and managed to answer almost every posting within five minutes. We also added over a thousand new fans each day.”
The jury deciding the awards said that SAS had specifically impressed them with its speed in setting up an internal Facebook team, which used volunteers from various departments, to respond to its customers and keep them updated during the crisis.
“For SAS it also highlighted the need for a different approach to communicate with customers during irregularities and crisis, and we have since managed to develop this even further and can now offer a superior customer service with near-instant feedback through Facebook,” says Ericsson. “It is important for SAS to be present where are customers are present, such as Facebook and Twitter.”