The easiest and most efficient way to communicate with airBaltic is through social media, in which all questions and comments from passengers are answered as quickly as possible. The answers are not generated automatically, but are written by a team of customer service personnel under the supervision of Dainis Nažinskis.

What happens behind the scenes after someone communicates with airBaltic?

A lot of people contact us through social media. Almost all of our passengers have a smartphone within arm’s reach. They expect a quicker response through a social media site than by sending us an e-mail letter. Whenever we receive a query, I decide whether we can answer the question ourselves, or whether we have to enlist the assistance of colleagues from other departments. In most cases, we can provide an answer right away, particularly if the question is about service or technical issues, such as the weight limit for baggage, electronic check-in times or assistance in reserving a ticket. Passengers often ask what they are allowed to bring on board in their hand baggage, including jars of jam, cans of sprats and even a live python!

So you are the person behind each answer that airBaltic provides through social media?

Yes, I’m the man! And I always try to remember that behind each comment or complaint is another human being like myself.

Social media have become much more than just a representative, exterior face for companies. What future trends do you see in this field?

Social media have become an integral part of our lives. Most communication now takes place through the social media, regardless of whether you are sending a public or private message. For example, how often do you send an SMS as opposed to using Messenger? Social media are becoming more personal in the sense that we want to see information, pictures and video clips that interest us personally and that are in a language that we understand – preferably our native language. Companies must follow this trend and offer a diverse array of information, including locally oriented content. Content that is relevant in one country might not seem so interesting in another. We want to provide interesting information about the services that we offer through all of our channels, along with solid customer support. I think that’s a winning formula.

Returning to your own daily work, airBaltic flights take place at all times of the day, and therefore the social media are open to clients 24/7. Does this mean that you have to be accessible outside of regular working hours?

Work with social media in an exciting field like aviation is very interesting and dynamic. Every day is different. From the clients’ point of view, we need to be accessible, we need to provide them with answers to their questions as soon as possible, and we have to provide them with assistance if necessary. Often that takes place outside of regular working hours. Our response time also depends on the complexity of the question. The easier it is to answer a query, the faster the response time. Complicated issues that require a deeper investigation or research will obviously take longer to answer. In all cases, we tell our customers that we will get back to them as soon as possible.

From Internet ticket reservations to the reception of their baggage at the final destination, passengers have very high expectations. There are so many phases of their trip where something can go wrong and where someone can make a mistake. How do you deal with these potential problems?

If you look on the wall of our Facebook page, you might get the impression that we receive only negative comments. I’m responsible for compiling statistics on passenger reviews in the social media, and from that perspective, the proportion of negative comments is not that high. But of course, complaints are always louder and more noticeable than compliments. Whenever we receive a complaint, I always try to step into the passenger’s shoes and deal with the problem. I can’t make a snowstorm go away, but I can tell our customers how to rebook their tickets or get a refund. One of the things that bothers customers most is not knowing what to do when something unexpected comes up. We try to provide help immediately and often get thank you letters for responding quickly in seemingly hopeless situations. We also receive quite a few compliments, particularly regarding the service that our flight attendants and pilots provide. Whenever that happens, I try to send these letters of praise to the relevant staff members, so that they can feel an extra sense of satisfaction about the work that they do.

Is there a particular customer request or response that comes to mind right now?

Once someone wrote to tell us that he had taken a morning flight to Berlin but had left his car keys behind in Riga. A few hours later, we had his car keys on the next flight to Berlin and he was able to pick them up soon after the plane landed. He was really happy and very grateful. It’s stories like this that make our day. We’re always happy if we can help someone get out of a jam! Last summer, an aviation enthusiast asked us if he could photograph our new Bombardier CS300 when it landed in Riga for the first time. We said OK, and, when the time came in November, we invited him to come to the airport and take pictures of the plane during its historic arrival. He was ecstatic, and the pictures that he took turned out to be very nice!

How do you like to spend your free time?

I have an interesting and unusual hobby – radio DXing. I’ve installed an antenna on the roof of my house, which is connected to a radio receiver, which I use to catch and identify radio signals from distant cities and even countries. It’s so interesting when you come upon a radio station from Poland or Germany, for example. You might hear it for a couple of minutes at the most, and then you might not catch that signal ever again. Unfortunately, during the past few years since I moved to Riga, I haven’t been practicing that hobby very much, because the airwaves are too saturated with locally based radio stations.

Have you found a new pastime to replace your old one?

I travel quite a bit during my free time. My favourite destination is Portugal, which offers beautiful natural scenery, mountain vistas, friendly people and excellent wine. Another highlight was Rio de Janeiro, where I worked last year as a volunteer during the Summer Olympic Games. You could probably travel through Brazil for several years in a row and discover something new every single day! BO