London's Gatwick Airport integrates Twitter to solicit customer complaints

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As part of its brand relaunch, London’s Gatwick Airport is going all social media on us by integrating Twitter directly into its customer service strategy.

While not quite as bold as actually installing a giant Twitter wall in the airport itself – that would possibly induce riots – Gatwick’s management are to solicit feedback from travelers via their official Twitter account, including displaying physical prompts adjacent to check-in screens.

This “feedback”, constructive or otherwise, will then be monitored by airport staff in order to sharpen up its customer service. The desired result, apparently, is to create “a more human and personal experience than what they might expect from an airport that sees 33 million passengers flying out to over 200 destinations every year.”

Yeah, right.

I mean, it’s not like there weren’t already ways to make a complaint – and believe me, Gatwick isn’t exactly the best of class airport – or suggest a way to improve the service. That said, firing off a tweet can be quite a cathartic experience.

And, ultimately, perhaps that’s the whole point.

  • http://twitter.com/martinbarry Martin Barry

    I think you mean cathartic experience. :-)

    And using twitter to provide feedback has a much lower barrier to entry so they are likely to receive:
    – a higher volume of messages
    – a full spectrum from compliment to complaint. The harder it is to provide feedback the more likely it is the messages skew towards complaints.

    • Steve O'Hear

      Ha! Twitter can be both but yes, woops, I did mean cathartic :)

  • Jimbo

    Lethargic? You mean cathartic?

  • http://www.gatwickairport.com Samantha Holgate

    Hi Steve,

    Thank you for mentioning our Twitter initiative. If I may, I’d like to respond to three points that you’ve made:

    First of all you say that we don’t plan to construct a giant Twitter wall.

    We don’t, and that’s not because we think there will be a “riot” or because we think we have anything to hide – far from it.

    Instead, there are a lot of families among the 33+ million passengers using us every year, and we can’t have a few people posting inappropriate comments simply with the aim of seeing them appear on screen.

    Secondly, you say that Twitter isn’t the only way to complain. It’s not and I think the point here is that our social media programme is an extension of our customer services strategy. It certainly shouldn’t be seen in isolation.

    However I do think that the instantaneous nature of Twitter means that a lot of problems or concerns will be brought to our attention quickly. Problems and concerns that we will ideally be able to do something about.

    Finally we’re aware that some passengers historically haven’t had the best experience with us, which is why we’re keen to hear ways in which we can make it better.

    Only last month our new owners announced a £1 billion airport upgrade programme and we are confident that everyone using Gatwick in future will be pleased with the end result.

    Regards, Samantha Holgate (head of airport communications)

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  • http://www.hilton.co.uk/gatwick Gatwick airport hotels

    This is an interesting idea. I hope it will improve their service. There are several pros and cons in the idea. It’s a good thing to have easier access but this means that the number of the meaningless messages will rise.

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