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Social customer service in action: Lessons from First Great Western

9th Jul 2013
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Social customer service software provider Conversocial made the headlines recently when one of its big-name clients, Tesco, was crowned best in the world for social customer care by SocialBakers – responding to 65% of tweets directed at them with an average time of 81 minutes. But Tesco isn’t the only UK nationwide companies that Conversocial is helping to manage social service conversations.

First Great Western, which receives a huge number of tweets each day is another Conversocial customer. The train provider first implemented the social technology platform in March 2013 and, according to digital community manager Joanna Coverley, the company hasn’t looked back since.

She explains that prior to using Conversocial, the train company was using another technology platform to monitor and respond to service requests but struggled to respond in real-time and realised that as a result, they were not only compromising on offering great customer service but were also failing to leverage the data for proper reporting.

“We realised that we were losing as huge amount of insight and worried that we’d be unable to provide our social media complaint stats back to our regulating offices; we had no way of capturing the kinds of things people were raising through social and relaying that back.”

Despite having implemented the original system six months earlier, Coverley began having regular conversations with Conversocial staff via Twitter and, having tested a demo of the platform, made the decision to switch providers. “When we implemented the platform we realised it was much better than the one we had,” she says. “The interface is a million times clearer and it has a few extra features to make things easier for my advisors.”

Conversocial provides an analytics dashboard of everything the train provider needs to keep on top of its social service operations, from number of followers to number of requests, number of responses, response time and sentiment analysis. The firm also uses the tag feature to identify each mention they receive as either an enquiry, complaint or general conversation and analyse these according to sentiment to gauge customer satisfaction. Any constructive feedback is passed back to management teams so, for instance, if a customer tweets that anything on the train is broken, this is then escalated back to the firm’s engineers in real-time.

Coverley explains that the platform also provides individual agent response time that she and each of the agents can view, adding a competitive edge that has proven to make the overall response time quicker.

“Implementing the technology was a smooth transition,” she explains. “To train the staff, the guys from Conversocial went down to Plymouth where the majority of the team are based and did a day’s training with the team. Every so often, as with any technology, the system will crash from time to time so we’ll email the support and they get it fixed straight away. We haven’t had any major problems and as a result my team is much happier now just because they no longer have to battle with the technology.”

So the technology was easy to implement and appears to provide an enjoyable user experience for the agents but what hard metrics has First Great Western used to measure the changes since adopting the platform?  Coverely explains: “We’ve been looking at response time and noticed that this has really come down, which we think is because the platform’s so much easier to use. The advisors aren't taking time deliberating what to do with every tweet, they're just powering through them and so it has helped improve our performance.”

Full steam ahead

The community manager explains that going forward, she intends to use the technology to illustrate the merits of social customer service to the company’s top-level execs. “We haven’t really been sharing a huge amount of data from social with the rest of the business at the moment but with Conversocial, the analytics are easily presented, which means that we can start firing off really simple and pretty reports.

“As with any busy exec team, ours want to see top line data without too much detail. Conversocial provides us with the kind of data we need to interest them and provides a simple tool for eing able to get everything in one place and let everyone know what's going on. 

“We’re going to be using the platform to do much more of this reporting in the future.”

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