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Case Study - Lenovo Takes Ownership Of Social Media To Reduce Customer Service Costs.pdf

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Case Study - Lenovo Takes Ownership Of Social Media To Reduce Customer Service Costs.pdf
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  Headquarters Forrester Research, Inc., 400 Technology Square, Cambridge, MA 02139 USA  Tel: +1 617.613.6000 ã Fax: +1 617.613.5000 ã www.forrester.com For Business Process & Applications Professionals EXECUTIVE SUMMARY When Lenovo acquired the IBM PC Computing division, it saw that customers were talking about its products in third-party orums like notebookreview.com and thinkpads.com, and it worried that it was being lef out o these important conversations. Lenovo took ownership o the challenge and launched its own community. Using a peer-to-peer support community, Lenovo garnered critical worldwide views o the customer experience or the corporate-oriented LenovoTink and the more consumer-oriented Lenovo Idea brands. Te results have been stellar: By owning the initiative, Lenovo customer service proessionals ascertained how to align marketing, sales, service, and other departments to enhance the customer experience. Tis alignment resulted in a 20% reduction in laptop support call rates, an increase in agent productivity, a shortened problem resolution cycle, and an increase in Net Promoter Scores. Tis has led to better products and a reduction in support costs. SITUATION: LENOVO STRIVES TO REDUCE CUSTOMER SERVICE COSTS Te cost o supporting digital liestyle products like computers and routers is on the rise. As margins on these products decrease and the support requirements become more complex, companies are struggling to reduce customer service costs — costs that are eating away at already-thin margins. 1  Lenovo’s goal in deploying a customer service community was to reduce customer support costs while increasing the quality o the customer experience. 2  In addition, Lenovo wanted to learn, rom the customers’ point o view, opinions on its products — the top issues, including product eatures, unctions, and shipment delays — rom a global perspective. Conducting one ocus group a year was insufficient; instead, Lenovo needed to have an ongoing customer eedback process. o learn more about the company’s high level o commitment to customer experience and customer service, we spoke with executives at Lenovo. BEST PRACTICE: TAKE OWNERSHIP OF THE INITIATIVE IBM had deployed orums in the 1990s. Te mantra o “i you build it, [they] will come” was pervasive then. But the lack o Web 2.0-type technology, which allows richer customer/company interactions, led to the fizzle and demise o these early IBM orums. Using lessons learned, Lenovo changed its criteria or success. An unstaffed, underunded, improperly deployed and managed community leads to disaster, especially since the world o social customers, critics, and advocates has drastically changed. In taking charge o its social media customer service initiative, Lenovo used the ollowing best practices to ensure its success: August 14, 2009 Case Study: Lenovo Takes Ownership Of Social Media To Reduce Customer Service Costs Best Practices In Customer Service Social Media by Natalie L. Petouhoff, Ph.D. with William Band and Andrew Magarie  © 2009, Forrester Research, Inc. Reproduction ProhibitedAugust 14, 2009 2Case Study: Lenovo Takes Ownership Of Social Media To Reduce Customer Service Costs  For Business Process & Applications Professionals · Decide to own the social media initiative.  Lenovo began by listening and monitoring various online venues to understand what was being said about the company and its products. Eighty percent o the interactions were happening in just a ew communities. Tis shed light on how Lenovo’s own customer service community would be a strategic play. Lenovo wanted to reduce support costs and improve its products and services. While a 2% to 3% reduction in calls would more than offset the expense o the community, Lenovo aimed or 15%. Te company decided it wasn’t looking to dodge customers’ calls or press them to use an alternative channel; the goal was to be in real-time, honest, direct communication with customers. Tis would reduce the time to detect, understand, and resolve issues that would otherwise affect multiple customers. Solving problems upront meant ewer rustrated customers and ewer calls asking, “How do I fix this?”aking ownership also meant developing a strong set o community participation rules to ensure that the content on the site was moderated — in other words, Lenovo regulates what is and isn’t allowed on the site. Lenovo publishes this inormation as part o the community’s welcome package (see Figure 1). Part o the welcome process is to be clear about posting policies. Dealing with negative comments requires a delicate balance — it’s important to allow negative comments to remain on the site, especially i they are true, but Lenovo ound that posts that  violate posting policies should be moderated through edits, or in the worst case, pulled rom public view and held on an archive board or review. Moderators then annotate comments that need to be archived, and then customers are coached around the site’s posting policies. In many cases, modifications are made to allow some or all the content to be restored to public view. · Determine all the stakeholders and invite them to participate.  Lenovo’s community executives invited the legal department to participate rom the very beginning o the initiative. Te legal group helped determine the terms o service or the community, and the team reviewed the rules o engagement and moderation policies as well as the management principles o the community. Legal also provided disclaimers or the liability o the inormation posted to the site. Community executives collaborated with public relations and corporate communications to align all communications strategies. · Recognize behavior patterns and mitigate brewing “situations”.  Using the tools in the community platorm, Lenovo identified/studied other stakeholders, i.e., discussion leaders/critics, to learn their influence in other community sites, especially third-party sites. Lenovo determined a course o action to convert critics — i not to advocate status, then at least to a place that reduces their effect on other customers. Lenovo also learned how it important is it to reach out to experts, the owners and the leaders in other communities that discuss your company, and invite them to participate in your community. Without doing this, the launch o your new community looks to them like a competitive community and can meet with some resistance and even hostility.  © 2009, Forrester Research, Inc. Reproduction ProhibitedAugust 14, 2009 3Case Study: Lenovo Takes Ownership Of Social Media To Reduce Customer Service Costs  For Business Process & Applications Professionals · Create powerful partnerships with marketing, sales, product development, and engineering. Lenovo made interdepartmental collaboration “the way we do business around here.” In most companies, the contact center, eCommerce (or eService), sales, and marketing are separate, siloed departments. However, Lenovo’s executive management guided the partnership between marketing and customer service. Marketing owned the sales part o the Web site and the corporate blogs. Te WW Services organization owned the technical support Web site and the new customer service community. All departments were: 1) considered internal customers o the community, and 2) expected to provide insights into how their respective department’s operations affected the customer experience.Companies “born” on the Internet (as opposed to a brick-and-mortar business) may have an easier time understanding the level o genuine transparency required or online success. Customers can quickly detect corporate speak and inauthentic answers — this drives customers away rom communities aster than anything. Lenovo made the decision to be interested in its customers’ opinions, even i they were negative. It prepared the company or a direct relationship with the customer, and all departments were on call to develop a timely and coherent response to customers and to take action to solve customer issues. NEXT STEPS: LENOVO’S PLANS FOR ONLINE CUSTOMER SERVICE COMMUNITIES As Lenovo launched a global community effort, it noticed that the business results were dependent on the amount o content and the level o participation. Statistics showed that the English-speaking countries had more activity than Europe or Asia, where communities were in English only. In the uture, Lenovo will: · Enhance customer activity.  o gain the same advantages in Europe and Asia, Lenovo is considering launching instances o the community into languages native to these countries. · Repurpose community content to other customer interaction channels.  Te technology platorm can allow Lenovo to repurpose the content rom the community to other interaction channels, and it is considering doing so to make cross-channel interactions more consistent. · Deploy advanced community site analytics.  Customers can find a community in two ways: 1) simply do a Google search, or 2) i a customer already knows about the community, he would go there directly. Looking to the uture, Lenovo will use its vendor’s (Lithium) advanced metrics around content weighted by member and guest viewership to measure its success.  © 2009, Forrester Research, Inc. Reproduction ProhibitedAugust 14, 2009 4Case Study: Lenovo Takes Ownership Of Social Media To Reduce Customer Service Costs  For Business Process & Applications Professionals Figure 1  The Lenovo Customer Service Community Site Source: Forrester Research, Inc. 54318 Source: Lenovo BEST PRACTICE RESULTS: LENOVO REDUCES CUSTOMER SERVICE COSTS Te benefits Lenovo realized rom its customer service social media deployment include: · Reduction in calls to the contact center.  Within a year, with just the US operations, Lenovo experienced an approximate 20% reduction in laptop call rates due to direct and indirect call deflection. 3  In addition, the community content affected engineering. A community answer might be considered by some as just one answer, but community answers benefit the customer and Lenovo by addressing a root cause that, when engineering fixes it, means ewer issues down the road or all.
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