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KLM Airlines Uses Social Media to Surprise Customers

Imagine that. You’re 17 years old and tweet about someday wanting to be a pilot for KLM airlines, then on your next KLM flight, you’re greeted by flight attendants bearing a gift of a KLM pilot’s hat. Or a newly married couple boards a plane destined for their honeymoon only to be greeted with champagne and best wishes. But how did the flight attendants know they were on their honeymoon? Was it the particularly shiny new set of rings? Or the glow in the bride’s cheeks? No– it was because their friend Karin tweeted the couple’s news. This last summer, KLM marketers decided to see how they could use social media to unearth tidbits of information about their passengers so that they could pleasantly surprise them. From liqorice-flavored chocolates to roses to tapas cookbooks, KLM was able to surprise and delight passengers with personalized gifts thanks to social media-fueled data and the monitoring capabilities of Radian6.

While the campaign was well received and reaped the rewards that can only come with a “surprise and delight” approach, it begs the question — is it appropriate for marketers to use social media to tap into customers’ personal lives. Will customers feel like big brother is watching them? Or will they embrace the idea that something good might come their way because they tweeted, posted or liked? Only time will tell just how tolerant customers will be and how wide they are willing to open their privacy door.

Want to learn how to make social media part of your strategic plan? Ask the social media experts.

Sallie Burnett
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