The Internet is full of complainers – just check the comment thread of pretty much anything for confirmation of this fun fact (and don’t feed the trolls) – but when you’re a major brand, complaints, especially those that arrive in the moment via social media, offer a unique opportunity to problem-solve and convert cranky consumers into satisfied, loyal customers.

American Airlines clearly understands this. Known and celebrated for tracking and acting on insights gleaned from social media – Twitter in particular – the airline doesn’t take tweets like this lightly:

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In fact, American Airlines, smartly, is always paying attention to what’s being said on social media – which is how they came to realize that while not everyone hated the piano versions of pop songs that previously filled the air as passengers boarded and exited – there were enough tweeted complaints that it was worth investigating.

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Putting to work the various social listening tools at their disposal, including NetBase’s patented natural language processing capabilities, the airline assessed just how passionately passengers disliked their boarding/disembarking music selection. With actual data at their disposal, they responded to the critical tweets by making changes to their playlists.

And passengers took notice:

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That the airline would go to such lengths to please passengers isn’t a surprise given that American’s presence on social media goes beyond the output-only approach that many companies think is enough. They consistently take advantage of available social listening technologies (like ours) to respond quickly to all comments – both good and bad. Because of this real-time approach, their customers feel seen and heard. And happy.

Social customer service is still an evolving strategy, but one thing worth noting is as basic as it gets: Even if no other resolution is immediately available, simple acknowledgment of a problem can go a long way.

But in order to acknowledge a problem, you have to know it exists. Without carefully monitoring their Twitter feed, American Airlines wouldn’t have realized how annoying many found their Muzak-style song choices.

And it’s more than just simple monitoring, of course. If they’d only accounted for number of mentions, for example, they might have thought they were doing just fine. But when one breaks down the data to analyze sentiment and passion, a clearer picture emerges.

And THAT is the kind of social listening and response that helps a brand stand out above the rest.

NetBase is proud to be a tool  in American Airlines’ social listening toolbox. What’s in yours? 

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