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Twitter is the new customer service, to the surprise of no one who’s been paying attention. But few companies are taking it as far as Dutch airline KLM, which is now displaying live wait times on its Twitter account.

Better hurry if you need help — wait times are going up.

“We believe in the transparency of social media,” KLM SVP Martijn van der Zee said in a statement. “Customers want to know what to expect from us. We now offer them real-time insight into our response time.”

airplane20in20the20sky20smallTwitter, of course, supports no such functionality — although it may come in the future, with the rise of the tweet in customer support organizations. KLM is accomplishing this feat simply by updating its cover photo every five minutes with a new estimated “hold time” in the background.

People seem to enjoy it: When I first checked, hold times were just over 40 minutes. Currently, they’re sitting at 60 minutes.

As anyone who has flown KLM knows, the airline pays significant attention to customer service. It currently offers live customer service, via Twitter, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, in no fewer than ten languages on each of Twitter, Facebook, and VKontakte (the second-biggest social network in Europe, particularly in Russian-speaking nations, with about 200 million users). According to van der Zee, KLM will soon be adding service on Google+ and China’s Twitter-like social media service, Sina Weibo.

Which will put pressure on American and global corporations to follow suite.

A large majority of people say they use or would use social media to access customer support, and companies such as Freshdesk,, and HootSuite provide tools to help social enterprises manage the inevitable flood of customer support inquires.

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