Building Relationships On Social Media (Amtrak Gets It)


Recently, I was traveling between Richmond, Virginia and Washington, DC when my train was running a few minutes late. I knew that there was severe weather in the area, so I took to twitter to see if there were any delays and this is what I found:


From this I was quickly able ascertain the service was disrupted between Washington and BWI, so I did not have to worry about major delays. Sure enough my train rolled into the station just a minute later. Once settled on the train, I was so impressed with Amtrak’s responsiveness I figured I would let them know:


To my surprise not to long after, I received a tweet from Amtrak:


In response, I promptly joined their Amtrak Rewards program and now finding myself thinking train first when making travel decisions. I also find myself being a brand advocate for Amtrak, taking photos and sharing whenever I travel on the train or even recommending to friends.

The Social Media Lessons Learned:

1. In being responsive to other customers, the answer I needed was already online.Many organizations fail to respond to customers due to the time investment. They tend to view it as I put all of that time into answering one person’s question. But the fact of the matter is there may be many followers who have that same question. You get them the information the are looking for without them having to ask it.

2. Building relationships takes an unremarkable train ride and creates a brand advocate.My trip to DC was uneventful, just a standard two hour train ride. However, it was their direct engagement with me, that made me a true fan of Amtrak, by taking the time to stop and say we appreciate your feedback and thoughts.

3. Interaction did not lead to measurable direct sale, but has ultimately generated future sales. Many non-social media types tend to not see its value, because there is not a direct click to sale. However, what they miss is it does build relationships and generate future sales. Prior to this interaction I used the train as a utility– if I needed to get somewhere affordably then I would take it. Now Amtrak, in showing they listen to their customers, has created a future customer who will think train first.

Building relationships and listening to your followers is an essiental part of the social media experience. I encourage all organizations to look into the Amtrak model and truly show they are listening to there followers.

Are there any companies/organizations that you think do a good job of this?

Share This Post
Bookmark and Share

You can see this post in its original form here

Leave a Comment


Leave a Reply

Corey McCarren

I’ve had a similar good experience with Keybanks social media manager, though the overall experience was a huge and almost costly mix-up. I actually wound up on a call with the guy to help solve my problems (I verified that he was legit with the company, of course).

Curt Klun

I can see how social media can offer a terrific, timely and low-cost interface with the customer at a tactical (incident) level, but how about for longer-term, strategic, and more complex products/interactions? Does social media only serve to facilitate already established, in-person relationships or can social media serve as a platform for development of relationships and working higher-level issues? Any case examples?

Will Samolis
Alex, thank you for your positive blog post about our customer service response time while you were experiencing a train delay. We are very proud of the work our social team is doing, and it is our goal to keep our customers informed and happy. Also, thanks for joining our Amtrak Guest Rewards program.
Will Samolis
Senior Officer, Social Media
(P) 202.906.2128
(F) 202.906.3306
60 Massachusetts Avenue, NE
Washington, DC 20002
Eric Koch

Good one Alex. It’s rather interesting to see how each social platform can be used in different ways to build ones brand and loyal following. In this case, Twitter is very responsive to letting people know updates and responding to inquiries.

Robert Giggey

That’s funny that you post this b/c I’ve had the exact same experience with the major train service here in Canada – VIA rail. If you skim through their timeline you’ll see how much they engage their riders and they’ve answered my questions/issues via twitter while riding several times, and it does make a big difference when I’m choosing between train, plane, or car:!/VIA_Rail

Camille Roberts


This is a GREAT example of how powerful social media can be, and so simple. Simple meaning it really does not take much effort to learn, and the ROI is immense. Those who are “connected” specifically to Amtrak, in this case, were aware of the situation. I imagine those who were not were upset, disgruntled, and reactionary. It is so interesting to think how far our communications have improved.

Great post!