Responding faster on social media

The Social team has received over 580,000 social media interactions already this year. That’s over 580,000 comments and messages from colleagues, members and customers on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn and across our blogs. Of course, we want to respond as swiftly as possible, and we’ve been making our processes more efficient to help us to do just that.

How it used to work

For around 2 years, we’ve used a system called Sprinklr to bring all social media interactions together into one inbox. From there, the Social team (that’s us here in Co-op Digital) would review each interaction, answer the ones we could, and assign the ones we couldn’t to the relevant customer care team in different parts of the business.

However, we noticed that around 40% of questions and comments need a response from an expert in one of our customer care teams. Because that’s such a large chunk, manually sifting and sorting them took up a significant amount of time. To be more efficient, we decided to look at what we could do within Sprinklr to automatically assign interactions to the appropriate team.

Writing rules to speed things up

By August, we’d written a set of rules for the Sprinklr ‘rules engine’ with a series of yes/no scenarios. The sorting process sends each interaction down a flowchart and automatically assigns the interaction to the right team.

Here’s an idea of what the yes/no scenarios look like. But it’s a huge and sprawling live rules engine and it’s difficult to take a screenshot of the entire thing.

Screen 2017-11-30 at 12.26.30 The rules we’ve written work out:

  1. Who someone is, eg, a customer, member or colleague, an online influencer or a journalist.
  2. Which part of the business their interaction relates to.

From this information, we decide how best to respond.

We’re seeing positive results

So far, the new process has meant we:

  • respond 30 minutes sooner, on average
  • respond within an hour, 70% of the time, during working hours. (This is fairly good because a 2015 survey found that 53% of UK tweeters expect a response within 1 hour).
  • are able to identify when an interaction has come from a Co-op member, and if it has, we respond to them within 28 minutes, on average

Screen shot from a Co-op customer that says: Appreciate the speedy response

But it’s a work in progress

After the change, our Food customer care team noticed their response times were actually slightly slower. We realised this is largely because when people get in touch with a customer care team, they’ll say one thing over several messages. 

Previously, we would have forwarded just one of the messages to the Food customer care team and they’d have been able to see the whole conversation. Now however, each message and image automatically ends up in the customer care team’s inbox meaning we’ve basically just passed the filtering on to them to do. In response, we’re working on new ways of displaying interactions in Sprinklr to speed up Food customer care’s responses.

We want to be faster still

We’re pleased with the improvements we’ve made but things can still be better. Faster. We’re hoping to help Food customer relations respond to 95% of the messages assigned to them within 2 hours during working hours. That’s our next goal.

We’ll continue to iterate as we learn more about what colleagues, customers and members need from us on social media.

Jordan McDowell
Senior Social Media Manager


Social Media – The Customer Service Tool For Millennials?


“In my day we didn’t need an app to remind us.” “Back in my day you’d just ring someone.”

They both sound like something you’d hear from your grandparents, however they are also comments heard at a conference on ways to improve customer service for millennials. During which there was more discussion on call abandonment rates than response times on Twitter.

There was a big emphasis on instant chat tools (which are fantastic, I use them often myself). However businesses seemed more open to investing money in trialling these tools without first trying social media, and when four in five millennials prefer to use social media over web, phone or online chat, this surprised me.

More and more in my job as a Community Manager and also in my personal life, I see people use social media as their first point of contact with businesses. For many its second nature to tweet the local council and quiz them on road works, to tweet train companies about delays to their journey, to send Facebook messages to hotels enquiring about check-in times, even just a quick tweet to find out a business’ telephone number. Many millennials live fast paced lives where they want information (almost) instantaneously and at their own convenience. Because of this social media is favourable as it delivers information to their fingertips ready to digest in their own time.

This “back in my day” thinking can be damaging to businesses. We don’t live in the same kind of society as “back in the day”, we live in a 24/7 society where millennials would rather go to the dentist than call a customer service line.

If you think millennials are hard to communicate with now just give it another 10 years – my younger siblings don’t ring their friends and family, they tweet, text or Google Hangout. A telephone conversation is almost an alien concept! I wonder how they will choose to communicate with businesses when they come to the age of paying bills, buying products or booking holidays?

@Cat_Storey8, Social Media Community Manager for The Co-operative Group.