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How TalkTalk transformed its self-service community - and what we can learn from it

5th Oct 2017
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Self-service has become an increasingly crucial component of the customer service mix. Whether it be online FAQs, virtual assistants or online communities, self-service has become popular both with customers and businesses alike. 

It was against this backdrop that TalkTalk decided that it wanted to bolster its self-service capability through a unique community, allowing customers to interact digitally to quickly get the answers they need.

The objective was to deliver effortless support through digital channels, providing customers with a 24/7 platform where they could seek help from like-minded individuals, supported by live chat and a dedicated community team.

TalkTalk already had a community hub in place that was critical to its service strategy, helping customers get answers to their questions and resolve faults via the community without having to pick up the phone. But the company realised that an upgrade and refresh was needed.

Its existing community hub, while popular, was dated and difficult to read on a mobile. It was difficult for visitors to navigate, and convert into members – and for members to update profiles and generally show what they could offer. There was also no way to reward ‘super users’ or those that went ‘the extra mile’ in helping customers solve issues.

Stephen Fell, senior online engagement & content manager for TalkTalk, explains: “With community being a key enabler of our digital strategy, we took time to re-focus on what having a community means for us, what role it would play in our long-term plans, product development and more importantly, what it means to our customers.

"Following focus groups with key stakeholder and community users, it was clear we needed to transform the end-user experience and our new vision was born, namely to ‘provide our customers with an easy-to-use, vibrant, visually appealing, next generation p2p support experience, accessible to everyone, anywhere on any device’."

Fell continues: “We’d known for some time that our community could do more, go further and work harder to improve customer satisfaction and contact deflection but our UI held us back. As it became clear that the community would be playing an important role in our digital strategy we knew we had big issues to fix, such as mobile optimisation.

“Around the same time, we started to redesign the community, our brand teams we’re also in the process of re-branding the group, with a shiny new visual identity, this gave us the opportunity to create something new in-line with the launch of the rebrand.” 

A complete overhaul

At this point, TalkTalk turned to its partner, the specialist design agency, Ingelby, to help it develop a unique community experience. The existing community needed more than just a ‘lick of paint’. Instead they had to start again from scratch.

As Fell explains: “Our focus was clear. We wanted to deliver on every point of our new vision. Throughout the project, we constantly challenged ourselves and Ingelby, and questioned every decision to ensure our vision was being met to create something that was truly ‘mobile first’, was easy-to-use and would maximise contact deflection.”

Following focus groups with key stakeholder and community users, it was clear we needed to transform the end-user experience.

Ingelby worked on creating an intuitive environment for new members that encouraged visitors to search for and discover content that would to inspire them to join. Once registered, members were introduced to support content and, after making their first post, more advanced features such as a profile wizard were promoted.

This has now been enhanced, enabling members to showcase who they are and the content they produce and helping them find likeminded individuals. Members are encouraged to complete their profiles with a series of badges – an idea that has led to a 30% increase in profile updates.

TalkTalk also had been nurturing is super users’ scheme. Ingelby created the Stars Hub, which aims to give these valued and proactive customers their own space. The Hub acts as a home page for super users giving them access to a ‘private lounge’ and information such as how many hours they have helped each month.


Not only was the new community completed within the tight timeframe, it has also brought a positive response from customers and employees alike. There are some impressive statistics to support this: from a 20% increase in registration conversion and a 57% rise in returning member engagement, to a 464% growth in mobile content creation and a mighty 682% surge in mobile search.

TalkTalk recently won a sought-after Lithy award for Digital Design Excellence.

These figures point the ongoing success of the project. Commenting on the results, Fell says: “Our new community exceeded every KPI we set during the build. Every element of the new community works to both enlist new users and keep them engaged.”

And such has been the success of the project that it has landed industry accolades. 

TalkTalk recently won a sought-after Lithy award – from the software vendor Lithium Technologies – for Digital Design Excellence. This prestigious award has given TalkTalk’s new community and Ingelby’s work the global recognition it deserves.


Reflecting on the project, Fell has the following advice for businesses undertaking a similar project. 

“First, know your audience and business objective. It’s easy to get carried away and build something “you” want… but while it may look fancy, does it deliver? It’s important to have a clear view about what your community is delivering for the business. After all, a healthy community doesn’t always translate into delivering business value. Make sure you understand your users and how they want to use the community. What features make life easier for them?

It’s important to have a clear view about what your community is delivering for the business. After all, a healthy community doesn’t always translate into delivering business value.

“An example of this is super users. Typically, these account for less than 1% of your user base yet they can create up to 60% of your total content. During this project, we built our super users a bespoke tool to enable them to find questions and topics that needed answering but which most appealed to them or area of expertise, this made their use of community easier whilst helping us foster more peer support and ultimately greater contact deflection.

“The second key point is to focus on metrics. All that you do must be underpinned with data. Let the data guide where you focus your effort and time. Obviously, some enhancements just make sense to deliver and the occasional indulgence is ok.  But generally speaking, if you cannot measure it, then you probably shouldn’t be doing it.

“Remember too,” Fell concludes, “that a typical healthy community is going to be seeing about 80% of its traffic being organic search which means users are entering the community at a deep level rather than at the top of the domain, so focus on the pages and areas that work the hardest for you.”



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