What Apple, HP and Best Buy Can Teach Us about Social Care
November 4 2013
The rapidly evolving shift in how we communicate and connect with others requires companies to rethink how they interact with customers. Their strategies differ based on business needs and their approach to customer service. Social customer service is rapidly becoming the new, critical channel to drive satisfaction and loyalty. Our colleagues from TELUS International call this activity “social care” and it’s defined as the efforts employees make through social media to care for customers.
In this post we offer you some of the social care best practices of Apple, HP and Best Buy. Their strategies differed based on business needs and their approach to customer service.
Apple’s Community Forum
Apple has surpassed others by creating a community atmosphere that truly drives active participation. Apple launched Support Communities, replacing its Support Forum, in mid-April of 2011. The support site is largely consumer driven, which means it’s no longer moderated or driven overtly by Apple support agents. Apple employees occasionally highlight the first correct answer provided by a member, earning that member points toward Apple privileges.
The new Support Communities incorporates social-networking features such as personal profile pages, “liking” an answer, and earning status credentials for the best responses. This adds a unique game-like element to social care (the use of game-play in non-game applications in order to encourage desired behavior) – a tactic gaining popularity. Additionally, member pages can be personalized by changing the layout, and members can automatically receive email notifications when their question has been answered. Apple has aligned its efforts around its goal of having consumers support each other in the social platform of their preference.
Best Buy’s Twitter Activity via Twelpforce
Best Buy launched Twelpforce in July 2009, and it quickly became a success. The key differentiator for Twelpforce over other companies is that it has empowered the entire talent pool of Best Buy. Employees can post to the Twelpforce handle, but they can only use it as a service tool – not a promotional outlet.
One of the notable results of Twelpforce is that it has engaged customers and energized the company’s staff. There are many stories of Best Buy employees tweeting not only while on their breaks but also when they’re not at work at all. As a result of employee engagement and passion for sharing information, the tweets are both reactive to customer concerns and proactive in alerting customers of potential problems.
HP’s Facebook Support Forum
HP’s support forum displays its mission statement prominently on the main page: “Welcome to the HP Support Forum where customers are helping other customers on product questions. Also, you can search the community to view existing solutions.” One advantage to Facebook is that it allows detailed posts. There is no character limit, so more complex questions and answers can be discussed.
HP support agents do not comment on Facebook posts or attempt to resolve issues. It is purely customer driven. There’s little to no negative commentary on HP: our supposition here is that would-be detractors are tempered by the lack of presence of official HP representatives. The best part and a key differentiator is that we’re finding questions and answers that are crossing between consumers and businesses. For example, you’ll find a small business posting a very technical question, and then see a consumer answering it. However, HP no longer supports its Facebook Support Forum.
Each company has unique highlights in how they conduct social care ranging from Apple’s strategy not to provide dedicated customer care in any social channel beyond its own support forum, to HP’s use of social channels for customer-to-customer support with little direct intervention, to Best Buy’s extensive use of employees empowered to provide proactive social care via Twitter.
If done right, customer support can actually generate more positive sentiment than the overall brand. It can drive positive conversations and improve brand perception.
No doubt that Generation Y is changing the business landscape. By 2030 Millennials will be roughly 75% of the global workforce. The sheer size of this demographic segment will force organizations to re-think many of their policies.