KLM’s ‘Lost & Found Team’ aims to return lost items to passengers on the spot

airlinetrends.com | September 29, 2014

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By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

With nearly 7 million Facebook fans and 1.3 million followers on Twitter, and a wide range of social media initiatives, the KLM brand has become synonymous with social media innovation. The latest initiative by the airline is utilizing social media for an instant ‘lost & found’ service.

Instant lost & found
Every week, KLM receives 40,000 questions via social media. One of the most asked questions is about getting lost items back. This inspired KLM to set up a dedicated ‘Lost & Found’ team at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport which aims to reunite lost items as soon as possible with their legitimate owner. From a teddy bear found by the cabin crew to a laptop left in the lounge.

The team uses all available information like seat number, phone numbers and public social media details to reunite passengers with their belongings. Very often the Lost & Found team is able to surprise passengers by returning their personal belongings before they have even missed them. Despite the challenge of locating the owner, first results show that over 80 percent of the found items can now be reunited with their owners.

How it works
Air France-KLM SVP eBusiness Martijn van der Zee earlier this year explained to Dutch publication Marketingfacts how the new service works.

“The current situation is that if a passenger forgets his or her iPad on board and walks through customs, all we can do is to refer to the airport. This is very frustrating, especially when passengers realize shortly after they have left the aircraft that they have forgotten something, contact KLM and we can do nothing for them. The lost and found process can take a few weeks instead, which gives an enormous bureaucratic feeling. We know this is a weakness and we mostly know that through social media.”

“We have now appointed two people at the airport who constantly look for things that are lost. They walk past the gates to collect items and then try to find the owners on the spot by approaching them, often via social media. In many cases passengers have not even realized yet they have forgotten something and really go out of their minds when they receive their lost item back.”

“The funny thing is that although passengers are very happy and say thank you right away, they often proved another response a few days later – for example via Facebook – about how they appreciate it.“

“From the standpoint of security and existing program, the instant lost and found service takes an effort to arrange, but if it works it is highly appreciated and earns us tremendous loyalty. In terms of investment, do we ‘earn’ the two lost and found FTEs back? This is hard to say, but I dare to say that a few years ago we would not have been able to introduce such a service.”

Spoof video
To promote the new lost & found service and show how far the team goes, KLM has created a ‘tongue in cheek’ video, featuring a beagle dog – appropriately named Sherlock – running through Schiphol Airport in order to return lost items to passengers right away.

The video was shot in such a realistic way that several media – including CNN – initially thought Sherlock was an actual member of the Lost & Found Team. The viral video has been viewed nearly 9 million times in the first week after it was posted on YouTube.