The Shorty Awards honor the best of social media and digital. View this season's finalists!

Special Project

Special Project
From the 7th Annual Shorty Awards

United Airlines Social Customer Service

Entered in Customer Service


On June 17th, 2014, champion golfer Rory McIlroy had just arrived in Dublin for the Irish Open when he realized his prized clubs hadn't arrived with him. He tweeted @united looking for answers, with his 2MM+ followers looking on. One of our social media reservations agents quickly responded, and located Rory's clubs almost immediately. They were soon on their way to Dublin, and the customer service success was widely praised by Mashable, HuffPo Sports, ESPN, the Irish Sun, and more.

When the clubs arrived the next day, Rory tweeted a photo, with the caption "Re-@united with my clubs!" The reunion drove a new wave of coverage and praise not just for United, but for value of social customer service for all.

Rory was just one of the 1,000 or more travelers across the globe that United Airlines' Social Operations team assists every day on Twitter and Facebook. Given the wide range of customer needs – from ticketing, check-in and boarding information, baggage claims questions, and upgrade and status questions from MileagePlus members, and the time-sensitive nature of those needs, the team operates twenty four hours a day, seven days a week, every day of the year.

But the primary focus isn't on speed – it's about providing a solution to the customer within the social network of choice, rather than directing that customer to another channel, like a call center. It's this ability to provide real solutions via Twitter that drove to grade United's Twitter customer service an "A-", saying that team representatives are "eager to reach a resolution."

Strategy and Execution

United was a Shorty finalist for Customer Service Shorty 2014. Since that time, we've continued to improve our social media customer service operation – with improvements to staffing and technology that have shown solid results: response times are 36% faster, issue resolution rates have risen by 10%, and customers who are "highly satisfied" with our social media customer service has increased by 25%. We assist over 250,000 travelers every year, across the globe. As our customers' expectations of, and reliance on, social media continues to grow, United's social customer service is committed to delivering a friendly and helpful experience.


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