Belgian Railways Launch Twitter Customer Service: 9 Ideas for Other Brands

By: Lien Brusselmans

October 25, 2013

belgian railroads

Today we had the honor of witnessing the launch of the Belgian RailwaysNMBS (Dutch-speaking) & SNCB (French-speaking) – on social media! For several months they had been monitoring all online conversations about their organization with the help of Engagor. NMBS/SNCB is a large organization – with over 229 million travelers last year – so conversations were numerous. Based on this monitoring knowledge and with the help of digital agency RCA Group they built their social media strategy, answering scheme and scripts.

The preparation was thorough, the launch successful.

We picked up 9 great ideas to inspire and help other companies with their own social media customer service.

1. Business hours & travel times tuned

From the monitoring results NMBS/SNCB noticed people start traveling to work – and talking to and about them – from around 6am. That is why they made sure to start their social customer service at the same moment. The NMBS/SNCB social media agents remain active until 10pm, thus covering all busy travel times.

2. Proactive tweets

The social media agents use Engagor to send out informative tweets about all disturbances on the net, before people have asked a single question about it. Travelers following @NMBS or @SNCB are always in the know of the situation.

3. Corporate questions assigned to Corporate Communication

There’s a clear division between questions for Mobility and questions for Corporate Communication. These are two different teams with Mobility managing the Engagor Inbox and assigning all questions for Corporate to the other team.

4. Clear scripts optimize efficiency & save time

Based on the monitoring results, NMBS/SNCB and RCA Group set up over 750 scripts. This means they agreed on answers to questions that often return and questions that were to be expected during the launch.

5. SPOC’s

NMBS/SNCB is a large organization and thus the social media cell works with SPOC’s (single point of contact) all over the company in case very specific questions arise.

6. Entire team has background as railway guard or train operator

All social media agents have worked as railway guards or train operators in the past. This means they know NMBS/SNCB inside-out, an essential quality for customer service agents. Especially in the case of social media, where everything has to go fast.

7. Don’t ignore questions that concern other parties

Belgium can sometimes be a complex country. With regard to railway transportation, there is another party – Infrabel – that is responsible for infrastructure while NMBS/SNCB takes care of the trains and its personnel. This can be confusing for travelers who sometimes ask questions that concern Infrabel. The social media agents don’t ignore these questions but help them get in touch with Infrabel.

8. Reply to compliments and enrich with extra information

The key to qualitative customer service is providing people with the information they need. Even if people tweet a compliment to NMBS/SNCB they give a reaction and, if possible, enrich their response with additional information.

9. Conformity and clarity in style

NMBS/SNCB is very strict about the form of their tweets. Whenever they inform (proactively of reactively) travelers about delays or interruptions, the tweet has a specific form, clearly describing the incident and the route on which it has taken place.

Together with NMBS/SNCB, we hope that their workflow and tips will inspire all social media agents and community managers out there!