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Special Project

Special Project
From the 9th Annual Shorty Awards

United Airlines Customer Service

Entered in Customer Service


Using social media as a means of customer service has become extremely normalized. Customers have become accustomed to the formula of getting assistance from businesses: post loudly on their channels until a customer service representative responds to your issue. Given social's transparency and visibility, there are high stakes regarding how quickly and how sufficiently customer service representatives handle customers' inquiries. United recognized that simply having a strong customer service presence on social media is no longer industry-leading. We wanted to improve the customer experience by also using our social media accounts to recognize positive events in customers' lives. We wanted to take our customer service presence further than social media by integrating it into the real world for our customers.

Strategy and Execution

With the sheer volume of social media posts, customers sometimes feel like their voices get easily drowned out. So we worked to recognize loyal customers and provide them with extraordinary experiences that demonstrate how United listens and uses social media to improve their experiences offline as well.

  • When Greg Shaw contacted us about getting a free upgrade for his girlfriend's birthday trip, we reached out to Airport Operations to get them moved to Economy+ and have staff wish her happy birthday as they boarded.
  • When Shaun Burke asked us a question about his flight and said he could "stop by" Willis Tower to discuss, we explained the exact reason for his flight delay and followed up with an offer to tour the Network Operations Center. By going above and beyond for our customers on social media, we've established the perfect way to publicly display our strong appreciation for their loyalty.

With thousands of passengers traveling daily and numerous external factors affecting flights, airlines inevitably encounter challenges. For United, social media is often the way in which we receive word of problems customers experience. In addition to addressing these problems and collecting feedback, we saw our social media channels as the opportunity to turn a negative post into an overall positive experience by going above and beyond with our customer service.

  • When customer Landon Howell reached out to us during the October Outage asking for a pizza while he had to wait, our Customer Experience team saw Landon's tweets and sent him a pizza while also apologizing for the delays.
  • Howell Marketing Strategies CEO Amy Howell travelled to speak at the Texas Bankers Association Marketing Conference in San Antonio. She made it public that she had a poor experience flying with United, so we took immediate action to right a wrong. We upgraded her to Economy+ on her return flight and had Airport Operations meet her pre-flight to provide a formal apology and gift. In response, we were able to turn a negative tweet into a positive interaction when Howell recognized and thanked us for our recovery efforts. She stated, "It's not what happens but how you handle what happens." And we couldn't agree more.


By using social media for customer service both online and off:

  • Our average response time dropped by 55% throughout 2016
  • Our average response time for Q4 2016 was 65% lower than Q4 2015, despite Q4 2016 having 4% more incoming volume
  • The relationship team positively increased net sentiment by 21 points in 2016
  • Our team provided 138% more responses in 2016
  • Media

    Entrant Company / Organization Name

    United Airlines


    Entry Credits