Deliver more for less – the true savings of Social Media Customer Service

We often talk about the importance of having a purpose for social media in the organisation for it to be taken seriously by senior managers. Some have done a great job of putting social media at the heart of their customer service operations and providing excellent customer experiences as a result.

There are many examples of organisations delivering great customer service on social media, but we chose to focus on three leaders in their respective fields and to try and understand why they have such a focus on social customer services.

Building lifetime relationships at Redrow Homes


Redrow Homes had an interesting challenge at the end of 2017 – they had just lost their House Building Federation 5 star rating and were drowning in incoming messages and comments on social media. Social media had exposed some cracks in their customer service operations and because social media is a public medium, this was visible to both existing and potential customers. Marketing and customer services were not joined up so sponsored posts were littered with complaints and unanswered customer service questions. Something had to be done!

Redrow 5 star

The management team lay down some pretty big objectives;

  • To use social media to build lifetime relationships with customers.
  • To regain their House Building Federation 5 star rating.

They decided to put social media at the heart of the organisation’s approach to customer services by showing their customers how engaging and responsive they were in this very public medium. By investing in people, training and technology they were able to reduce response times down from 48 hours to 1 hour and provide a seamless customer experience by joining up their nationwide offices so they could begin their journey of focusing on building lifetime relationships, which enabled them to regain their 5th star in early 2019.

A massive well done to Redrow for putting social media front and centre.

The sky’s the limit at Gymshark


One of the online retailers that keeps making the headlines with outstanding growth is Gymshark. They do not have a traditional call centre and claim that they are not set up to handle high volumes of phone calls. An interesting statement from an organisation with a turnover in excess of £100 million that has been seeing treble digit growth year on year! They rationalise this by explaining that they built the brand online including their support.

Why doesn’t Gymshark have a phone number!?

Gymshark does not have a call centre and we’re not set up to handle high volumes of phone calls. The brand was built online, including our customer support. Though you may receive an automated response every once in a while, all channels are manned by human staff who are eager to help you out, quickly and efficiently.

GymsharkAlthough they might not answer the phone they are, however set up for social customer services – having won the Guinness world record for the speed of their responses on social media. It is key to remember that it is not just about the speed of response, but about re-enforcing the brand.

Not only are Gymshark exceptionally quick at responding to customers and stakeholders but the customer service team respond with personality; by adding emojis and responding in a natural conversational tone, making it easier to convey real empathy. This can act as a key differentiator- it doesn’t have to be difficult or time-consuming and it can capitalise on the great personalities that work for the organisation- We know that any type of customer service can be tough, but by making it personal it can be both rewarding and fun. Encourage your team to shine!

There are real commercial reasons why Gymshark have chosen to opt for a social customer service model because they can deal with significantly more enquiries and it is significantly cheaper than having their advisors on the phone! No words needed here- the growth speaks for itself.

Bank the savings at South Staffs Water


South Staffs are another organisation that is heavily focused on social customer services. Similar to the police and your local council, you cannot choose your water provider and as a result it is a heavily regulated industry to keep the suppliers in check and keep customers happy. Therefore, the regulator (OFWAT) measures these organisations against customer satisfaction and rewards the organisations accordingly.

We can all remember a time when we have been without water, either through planned upgrades or when there has been a leak. South Staffs use SMS as the initial channel to broadcast to all customers that there is a problem with a leak or a burst pipe and that they are working on it and they ask their customers to follow updates on Twitter. Customers naturally want to know what is going on and the natural instinct is for them to pick up the phone, but at South Staffs Water they want their customers to direct questions and complaints to their social media channels.

By being able to handle the majority of enquiries on social media the organisation can deal with 10 times the volume of enquiries when compared to the phone. This means that it is significantly cheaper to serve customers via this channel, but exactly how much cheaper?

The cost to serve customers per interaction on the phone is £2.25 and on social media is 19.5 pence! 

For most organisations the savings would be enough, but for South Staffs water it also has a significant reputation impact as well. As the team can now deal with more customer enquiries through this channel, they can respond faster, which has a huge impact on customer satisfaction.

South Staffs Water, Inspired Social 2019

The numbers speak for themselves. The faster the organisation responds, the greater the customer satisfaction. Well done to South Staffs Water for delivering excellence in customer service.

If you have any great examples to share we’d love to hear them, Tweet us @SoCrowd