Saturday, April 9, 2011

Service industry on Social Media

The gods' service is tolerable, man's intolerable.~ Plato.
Service industry is characterized by an intangible experience and the lack of standardization sometimes leaves many of us unsatisfied. The airline industry is an example of "pure service". There is nothing tangible about the whole journey from searching for an airline, to buying a ticket, getting a boarding pass to getting your luggage back. As Plato says, man's service in intolerable. We are critical, judgmental and impatient while seeking the services of another man. So as a service provider, if a customer vents out a poor experience to a third party, it would end up in poor word-of-mouth and result in lost customers.
The low-cost airline industry especially is plagued by this problem since "the low cost" is managed through a "rough" experience given to the customer. Since "low cost" means "high volumes", the sheer volume of "word-of-mouth" is quite high. And here comes Social Media to the rescue. To "connect" and solve the problems of customers, social media presents a cost-effective way on a playful medium such as twitter or Facebook to hear the customer and solve the complaint even before it becomes problematic for the service provider.

Leading by example: Jet Airways

Jet Airways,  India's largest airline and the market leader in the domestic sector, operating over 400 flights daily to 67 destinations worldwide has joined twitter. Their presence on twitter is being promoted through interactive online advertisements. Their twitter page is proactively solving consumer complaints (managing complaints) and getting acknowledgements of superior service (positive word of mouth). It is a wonderful example of an efficient information dissemination policy and market orientation. The "Market" i.e. their customers are present on social media. Most of them book their tickets online. Orienting to the market means listening to the voice of customer through channels that reduced costs and time. And what better than Social Media. The success of twitter shows in the testimonial blog entry of Mark Needham who faced a problem, while travelling to London by Jet Airways. Mark says,
I decided to see if I could sort it out on twitter and after a few messages back and forth with whoever controls the Jet Airways twitter account I got an email with my new itinerary.Hurray for twitter! 

For a market oriented company, going by Henry Ford, A business absolutely devoted to service will have only one worry about profits. They will be embarrassingly large.