Case study: Telfort
Improve customer contact, product development and call reduction with social customer service
Telephone and internet products and services are indispensable in day-to-day life. Since customers need to be able to trust that these will work, reliability is very important for Telfort. Since Telfort was established in 1996, the company has worked hard to deliver the best products and services to its customers. All of its products are aligned with customer preferences, and every customer is regarded important. Above all, the organization wants to be transparent in everything it does to its over 2 million customers. Always keen to keep improving, Telfort employees are ever-vigilant for ways to do it better, smarter, differently or with more fun. Learning from customers is a major focus, with the Telfort community playing a key role.
The Telfort community has a long history. Ten years ago, the first initiative was launched: a discussion forum for Tiscali (one of Telfort’s predecessors).
When KPN acquired Tiscali in 2006, the forum was adopted by Telfort, leading Telfort webcare employees to play an active role in the forum. The number of members rose sharply after that period. Its growth was fed by the corporate style introduced by Telfort in 2011; the forum migrated from the phpBB open source software to the community platform built by inSided in 2012. More members join the forum every day; the counter is now at nearly 36,000 members.
How do you grow from a user-driven discussion forum to a fully fledged, active community that includes a service function?
On the forum, customers find answers to their questions, offer feedback and help other customers. Over 100,000 visitors find their way to the forum every month. Nearly 500 topics are posted monthly, with over 2500 responses. The topics are diverse, ranging from questions about internet, networks and connections to land lines.
The structured dedication to the organization and the right choice of platform were the key factors in the forum’s success. The Telfort forum was updated by inSided in mid-2014. The innovations included improved functionalities and a completely revamped moderation environment for the webcare team.
Structured dedication to the organization and the right choice of platform were the key factors in the forum’s success. The Telfort forum was updated by inSided in mid-2014. The innovations included improved functionalities and a completely revamped moderation environment for the webcare team.
The new forum environment gives customers immediate access to unanswered questions. When customers want to help other customers, it’s easy to find which questions have not been answered yet. ‘Help others’ is a clear action with its own spot in the forum navigation. The fact that Telfort customers are eager to help others is evident from the fact that over 50% of the questions are answered by customers.
In order to continue promoting interaction between customers, the forum also includes a number of new functionalities, like a following system, activities page and the option to rank posts.
The system makes it possible to follow interesting users and start conversations with them that only the participating users can read. The activities page offers an overview of the actions that each user has taken on the forum, like posting topics and answering questions. The overview also shows when a user earns a badge (an icon displayed beside the user name that can be earned by performing certain actions on the forum).
Previous research conducted in cooperation with VU University Amsterdam shows that members greatly appreciate the interactive contact and may become more active as a result. These developments contribute to interaction and increased member activity.
In addition to mutual contact, expressions of appreciation can also be an important motivator. Telfort has set up a special reward system on the forum for that purpose. Besides the badges referred to above, this system includes reputation points. These points are awarded when members like a forum post. The number of likes is specified beside the post. This makes it easy to see which posts have received lots of likes, so the customer who posted the message feels appreciated.
The option of using a Facebook account to log in also makes it easier to take an active role in the forum.
The Telfort forum has achieved provable results. The costs saved significantly outweigh the costs incurred. Results are achieved in call deflection and customer satisfaction, reducing churn and improving products and services.