T-Mobile UK Demonstrates ROI for Online Community; Best Practices for Improving Online Customer Satisfaction

It took about 10 years to see wide adoption of email automation tools for technical support. Web chat, popular in the consumer world, accounts for less than 2% of enterprise hardware and software incidents. But this doesn’t mean enterprise support can’t quickly adopt new customer channels, and the perfect example is the online discussion forum. I first surveyed members in 2007 to find out adoption of forums, and as you can see in this graph, TSIA members have definitely been rapid adopters of this technology:

Discussion forum adoption by TSIA Member companies

A third of members had a forum live in 2007, jumping to almost half in 2008, up to 57% last year, and based on planned spending I’ve estimated forum adoption in 2010 will be over two-thirds of members, closing in on 70%.  My 2010 Member Technology Survey will be launching in the next couple of weeks, so soon I will have accurate 2010 numbers to share.

The problem with being an early adopter is a lack of best practices and unproven ROI.  In 2007 and 2008, all anybody asked me was what online community features they should have and what vendors offered the best products. As soon as the economy went to hell, the member inquiries in late 2008 and in 2009 turned to ROI and best practices.  Today, my top FAQs related to online communities and emerging channels are:

  • How do you attract customers? Launching a forum is one thing.  Getting customers to use it is another story. Just like other self-service sites, if customers don’t quickly become active in the new discussion forum, it will never impact support operations.
  • How do you encourage peer-to-peer support? The overwhelming percent of registered users in online communities are lurkers. How do you encourage customers to go beyond reading posts to begin asking questions AND answering questions for other customers?
  • What moderation resources are required? Should we schedule employee moderators or rely on customers to moderate? What are the usual resource requirements to keep a forum running? What skills do moderators need?
  • How can we search forum and KB content? How do I bridge the gap between on online community content and my online knowledgebase? The two have overlapping and conflicting information.
  • What emerging channels should be leveraged? Is a forum enough? Do I need a presence on MySpace or Facebook? Do I really have to worry about Twitter?
  • How do you calculate ROI for hard and soft metrics? Some vendors make crazy claims about 30% call deflection with a forum, but there are no case studies to back that up.  What is the ROI story? What about soft metrics like customer satisfaction?

Clearly, we don’t have all the answers yet.  But we are definitely closing in on what questions to ask and what metrics should be tracked, and with the first TSIA Social Media survey completed late in 2009, we finally have some real data to help.  Shawn Santos, TSIA’s director of social media, will be publishing multiple reports this year with survey results. But nothing is better than hearing advice, best practices and lessons learned from the best and brightest in the industry.

Enter T-Mobile UK. Talk about being at the center of a trend–I read a Mediamark survey yesterday that SMS text via mobile phones has now surpassed IMs via computers–computing has moved from desktops to laptops to mobile devices, and all that traffic and all of those usability questions are now going to wireless providers like T-Mobile. Tomorrow I will be hosting a webcast at 8am PT/5pm UK, “Using Social Networks and Knowledge to Deliver a Better Customer Experience —A Case Study from T-Mobile.” This is a very impressive case study, including results like:

  • Customer Channel of Choice changed from 67% voice to 26% voice and 53% web
  • 1 million page views, 3000 registered users and circa 7000 comments in first 3 months
  • Customer access to FAQs via SMS text; Twitter support
  • Email deflection–15% increase over 11 months

Please join us to hear this amazing story from Chris Willis, Head of eService, T-Mobile UK. Here is a link to register. Thanks for reading, and hope to see you on tomorrow’s webcast!

Explore posts in the same categories: Technology

One Comment on “T-Mobile UK Demonstrates ROI for Online Community; Best Practices for Improving Online Customer Satisfaction”

  1. freesim Says:

    Computing may have moved from desktops to laptops to mobile devices, but try doing a days work on a Blackberry.

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