Last Wednesday we picked up the econsultancy award for innovation in online customer services for Gatwick Airport.

We worked with Gatwick in bringing some of the changes happening at the airport to life using online tools (for example through giant mobile barcodes on construction hoardings) but what has really been key is Gatwick’s commitment to transparency – it sees public online feedback as a strength rather than as something to be hidden away or ignored as is still the case for a lot of brands

For example, passenger feedback for Gatwick facilities, restaurants and retail partners will soon be visible for all to see.

We’ve been helping Gatwick integrate reviews from location based service Qype (www.qype.com) into its website, which means that (soon) you won’t have to go onto a 3rd party site to read passenger opinions, they will be directly on gatwickairport.com.

A US example of a company which is taking a similar approach is 37 Signals, which produces various web collaboration tools for small businesses.

The Next Web reports that it has now gone public with its customer support ratings.   Essentially when a customer clicks on a happy, sad or neutral face at the end of a customer support email, that result gets added to a real-time satisfaction score that is published on the web, which you can view here – http://smiley.37signals.com/

According to 37 Signals, “We’ve made these ratings public so everyone knows how we’re doing. We want to be held to the highest possible standards for customer service. Full transparency keeps us honest.”

And there is evidence that honest transparency has commercial benefits.

One organisation that helps retail brands effectively harness customer opinions is Reevoo (www.reevoo.com/b2b), which works with retailers such as Dixons and PC World.   Customers are actively encouraged to write a review post sale and those reviews appear on site.

The idea is that as people trust online opinions posted by strangers, brands should be trying to get *everyone* to post a review rather than for online sentiment to be distorted by the minority of very happy or (more often) unhappy customers.

Reevoo claims that a brand that embraces, harnesses and welcomes online feedback can see its web conversion rate increase by between 8-15%.   Reevoo says that both the visitor return rate and the average order rate is significantly higher for customers who have been reading customer comments, than for people who come to a site ‘cold.’

(This is one of the items in this week’s Rabbit Feed – the html version is here)

A year after opening our doors we’ve had our first award win!

The work we did for Gatwick Airport has resulted in Gatwick getting the ‘innovation in online customer services’ accolade in the econsultancy Innovation Awards.

We’re particularly thrilled about the category as it shows how we can make a difference in engaging an organisation’s customers and by extension having a positive impact on the bottom line.

According to the judges, this was:

“Probably the most holistic use of social media seen in a customer-focused business, and a great way of transforming something boring into something interesting. Ticks all of the boxes! Well done to Gatwick Airport and Team Rabbit.”

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(6 Jan – see award update below!)

A year ago today we opened our doors as a brand new agency with a mission to bridge the gap between digital and online PR shops.   Or as we put it to both make stuff and get it talked about.

A lot has happened during that year.   We became (and remain) independent.  We operated out of various wifi spots for two months with our first clients.    And then at Easter found our new home here at DLKW Lowe.

During that year we’ve developed creative content, created stories that worked globally, helped establish a social media profile for clients and assisted them with online issues management.    For a tour of some of our 2010 work, check out http://rabbits.extendr.com/tour

A few thanks yous – first of all to the amazing team that joined us this year – Kirsty, Zoe, Kate, Jim, Kristina (and to Kennerdeigh and Daniella who helped us out over the Summer).   To DLKW Lowe for letting us sit among some brilliant people and giving us the opportunity to work together on some campaigns, a relationship that will continue to evolve in 2011.   And of course to those first clients who put their faith in what was once a start-up.

We’ve spent the past twelve months creating a foundation and now we’re going to building the company all of us always wanted to be part of.

That means continuing to establish the social media side of Rabbit, developing a content arm and, importantly, making Rabbit into the kind of place where people actively want to come in every day.   Part of that includes being audited as a democratic organisation where transparency and everyone being part of our overall direction are key ingredients of how we operate.

Appropriately enough, it turns out that 2011 is actually the Year of the Rabbit in the Chinese Zodiac.  As a result, watch this space for what we’ve got planned during ‘our’ year!

Update (6 January) - The year’s got off to an excellent start already.   Our work for Gatwick Airport has been short-listed in the ‘innovation in online customer services’ category in the E-Consultancy Awards!

Today at 5pm our client bmibaby will be conducting a live Ustream broadcast with Peter Dickson, the ‘X Factor voice guy’ to promote their recent Belfast routes.

bmibaby is inviting you to submit your names, profile updates, answer machine messages, One Direction love notes and so forth to the bmibaby Facebook and Twitter pages for Peter to read aloud online. Each participant will then be able to enjoy their own individual video.

A little known fact about Peter is that he is from a town near Belfast hence the reason that bmibaby have picked him to launch the new Belfast City Airport route.

So if you would like to hear Peter announce ‘Olly Murs’ once more or another message of your choosing then make sure you get your requests in here or here.

You can watch Peter here at 5pm today: www.ustream.tv/user/bmibaby


London’s airports have obviously been the UK’s top news story over the past few days following the snow chaos that descended on the capital.

Our client Gatwick Airport has been open since Sunday morning with the exception of a two hour gap on Monday night when the runways were cleared with additional snow ploughs that had arrived on Saturday, winning plaudits from the media as a result (for example see this report by Channel4′s Jon Snow - “Snow on the Snow”).

Having taken it in turns with the in-house team to keep the Twitter feed talking to passengers for 18, sometimes 20, hours a day, we’ve been at the coal face when it’s come to social media being used as a communications tool during an exceptionally busy time when the airport was very much in the public eye

As a result, some stats from the last few days that might be interesting:

  • Gatwick made Twitter a core part of its communications strategy, publishing the @gatwick_airport Twitter ID on the website and on all press releases going to the media.  We also created a public Twitter list of airlines.  The general public and the media were actively encouraged to look to Twitter for the latest updates, as a result of which, Gatwick’s follower total has gone from just over 4,000 a month ago to over 18,000 today
  • On a “normal” day, Gatwick might be directly called out via the @gatwick_airport ID up to 20 times.    On Monday alone it was called out 948 times.  Essentially we experienced several months worth of activity in the space of three days
  • Gatwick’s Twitter account ultimately reached 3.2 million people on Monday and 4.1 million on Tuesday (source Twitter Analyzer).   Media organisations that re-tweeted the account included the BBC, Channel4, Channel5 and Sky
  • We’ve also noticed a lot of people signing up to Twitter for the first time, specifically to keep tabs on changes to their Christmas plans.   It will be interesting to see by how much Twitter has grown in the UK in December

Obviously at a time like this, not everyone is going to be complimentary, especially when they face disruption to their Christmas holiday plans.    However, a lot of people were grateful for a reliable and quick source of information and according to Scoutlabs, on Monday the 20th (when Gatwick was open except for two hours at night) positive outweighed negative sentiment online.

Lessons learned?  Mainly that if you are going to use Twitter as a communications tool you have to do it properly – the expectation (that we followed) was that people would get replies within 15 minutes.

Bearing in mind the number of news feeds that took their cue from the Twitter feed (indeed Sky put it on their site at one point along with other travel related ones), it also reinforced the way in which on and offline communications need to work together effectively.

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