Vodacom ramps up customer care via social media

Vodacom’s customer care team are now live on Twitter and Facebook from 7am to 10pm every day, including weekends

September 7, 2011

Social media has moved incredibly quickly from a specialist tool to a must-have channel of engagement with customers.  Building on the unique one on one conversation that social media makes possible, Vodacom has increased the number of people working in its specialist dedicated customer care team and increased their hours of operation.

With more than 27 million customers in South Africa, Vodacom’s social media team were always going to have their work cut out for them. The company now has more than 20,000 followers on its two main Twitter channels and is rapidly approaching 100,000 Facebook fans, giving the team a huge volume of customer care queries to handle.

Speaking about this, Portia Maurice, Chief Officer Corporate Affairs said:

“I don’t think any of us had an inkling what we were letting ourselves in for back in early 2010 when we kicked off our social media activity on Twitter.  We made two key decisions which are really paying dividends.  First, we set up the dedicated Twitter channel for customer care, @vodacom111, and made sure that the people resolving the queries were frontline on Twitter with nowhere to hide.  We then added to that same team and put them on to the Facebook page as well, scouring customer posts for issues to resolve.

“There’s always a challenge separating customer care activities from all the other engagements that happen via our social media channels but with the structure we’ve put in place, I think we’ve found a good balance.  The beauty of social media is if we’re not living up to customer expectations, we know pretty much instantly.”

The scale of customer interaction via social media is already significant, with the company receiving around 37,000 mentions per month on its Twitter and Facebook accounts.  The issues raised vary from easily answered factual queries to complex account and technical issues that require meticulous investigation.  One of the key challenges has been integrating this activity into the overall customer care team.

Explaining further, Maurice said:

“We get incredibly valuable real-time insights from our customer care activities on social media.  The challenge has been to make sure we capture this information and feed it back into the business, and at the same time to make sure that our customer care team has the consistent information it needs at its fingertips to resolve queries.  And all of this has to be done at the speed customers using social media expect, which is a long way from the 24 hour turnaround that we were used to.”

Interaction via social media is expected to grow exponentially.  Vodacom’s call centre deals with almost seven million calls per month, which equates to more than 200,000 calls per day.  One of the key goals of the social media team is to help reduce the volume of calls by making it easier and more convenient to interact online.

Maurice sums up:

“We have a lot of exciting ideas under development.  As long as demand for customer care via social media grows, we’ll keep adding the resources to make sure we do things right. If customers demand 24 hour support then we’ll be there.  Similarly, we aim to make use of the myriad tools and possibilities that social media offers to transform the customer experience. I know it’s our tagline, but in this case social media really is ‘Power to You’.”

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