Michelle Mattson, Sr. Mgr., Social Customer Support at T-Mobile.gave our first installment of our Social Spotlight customer webinar series.

T-Mobile is an SAP customer using the “SAP Social Media Analytics by NetBase Solution.” Michelle shared an eye-opening presentation that was followed by so many questions from the interested registrants that we could not get to them all. So included below is the longer version of the QA which Michelle answered herself as promised on the webinar.

You can check out some of the tweets about the webinar at #CustomerCare. As we tweeted during the seminar: “At the beginning, @TMobile‘s #T-Force handled ~7k cases/mo. With SAP + NetBase the 20 person team now handles ~30k cases/mo.” More results @MM_Mattson shared on the webinar include:

Growth in Support Cases Handled with NetBase

Michelle cited these statistics to illustrate the growth in social at T-Mobile:

  • +494% increase in social connections between January 2012 and August 2013
  • +845% social growth in the T-Mobile fanbase between January 2012 and August 2013
  • That growth came despite only a 6% increase in in-store traffic over the past year and a 45% decrease in average monthly call center call volume between 2009 and 2013
  • Events such as the iPhone launch and T-Mobile/MetroPCS merger caused activity spikes from 123-941%

She also addresses in the webinar why Radian6 did not work for T-Mobile. This is an excellent comparison for a company to view if they are considering a new social analytics solution – including ease of use, Natural Language processing, error rates, which company was able to deliver on promises and which company stands up to a side by side comparison test.

Michelle said, “If you really want to have insightful data about your brand and your competitors, don’t be afraid to put potential investments to the test.” T-Mobile did that before selecting NetBase.


* You can download the slides from the webinar and listen to the recording here.

Q&A Not Addressed on the Webinar – answers provided by @MM_Mattson

Carolina Q: Please give an example of how social analytics data changed T-Mobile strategy.

A: As a social team, we remain 100 percent focused on our social strategy, which is listen, engage, resolve. However, by having the rich data and analytics we get from NetBase, we’ve been able to change several business processes. One example is our SIM Unlock process: After doing a deep dive on what was driving volume and negative sentiment, our executives made the call to update the process.”

Manny Q: Radian6 is considered the standard for social listening, so he wanted to know how Radian6 was an “epic fail” compared to NetBase. Michelle said:

A: The Radian6 tool itself is not agile; it took hours to create topic profiles and themes for my employees dedicated to reporting. And their natural language processing capability comes nowhere close to that of NetBase. In December 2012, we had a 30 percent error rate in data we were pulling from Radian6. When this came to the attention of the Radian6/SFDC, their response was, “Our data isn’t completely, directionally wrong.” At the end of the day, for T-Mobile to have actionable and meaningful social data, our sentiment reporting has to be accurate, timely and the tool has to be easy to use. NetBase covers all those bases for us.

Paul Q: Do NetBase and SAP stand alone or is T-Mobile is able to bring detractors in directly from NetBase into SAP and then engage with them by tracking from one tool to the other.

A: Any topic we choose can be pulled into NetBase, so while they stand alone for us, we do pull certain topics in as needed. SAP allows us to select keywords, Twitter handles, and APIs, so again the agility of the tools allows us to customize as we see fit for different use cases or issues that come our way.

Eric Q: ­Can you share a little more about the integration between SAP and NetBase? What does SAP contribute? Also, why were hootsuite and sprout failures compared to NetBase/SAP?­

A: SAP is our CRM—we use it to pull posts off of social and aggregate them into a queue that my team works. Using SAP SocialOnDemand has allowed us to be 15% more efficient in our average time to connect with a customer and also in resolving their issue. It allows us to capture their social profile, their issue, collect their T-Mobile information and document the steps we’ve taken to resolve. SAP also pulls in our knowledge bases so we can easily feed content to customers during resolution. Hootsuite and Sprout didn’t meet our requirements from a listening capability as they were lacking—natural language processing, geographic analytics, real-time reporting and detailed competitive analysis. Keep in mind this assessment of these listeners was completed by our team in late 2012.

Carolina Q: ­How does T-Mobile take conversations offline if need be from social media?­

A:  We take our conversations offline with SAP. Should an issue be more suited to be handled “offline,” we ask customers to either chat with us (using Snapengage – a link that lives for 30 minutes) or email us; either is pulled in to SAP, where we resolve the issue.

Korbinian Q: ­How do you would describe a closed-loop-approach in Social CRM?

A: Our listen, engage, resolve strategy has been our key to success with our Social CRM strategy. By focusing on brand sentiment and individual customer issues, we find that our resolution rates are extremely high. Our tools and processes that align to our strategy allow us to have a 94% resolution rate on Facebook alone.

Kevin Q: How do you connect the social metrics to the business metrics, such as acq/ret rate or ROI?­

A: From a support perspective, we prove our return on investment by our resolution rates (these are key), our SLAs and the time it takes us to connect (or engage) with customers. From an ROI perspective, we partner heavily with our marketing team to align analytics and insight with the larger media information to paint a picture of how social marketing/support are a big win for T-Mobile in the social space.

Rajesh Q: ­How accurate is the tool generated sentiment? Can the analysts train the tool? ­

A:  The tool is highly accurate and agile. We find it to be upwards of 95% accurate and yes, we can train it to call certain terms negative, positive or neutral.  This teaches the tool and bumps the accuracy rate from 95% to closer to 98%-ish.

Carolina Q: ­Is your social media team in house or in the call centers? What is the organizational structure of your team? How many are on your team?

A:  My support team is located across 6 of our internal call centers across the nation and there are currently 20 employees working our social channels. In addition to those 20, I have 7 direct reports, 2 managers that support the T-Force team in the call centers, 3 Content Owners that produce all of our internal content and partner with marketing to ensure we are in lock step with campaigns, etc. and 2 reporting analysts that handle all brand level, ad-hoc sentiment analysis and reporting for our T-Force metrics.

Steffen Q: ­Do you offer customer service over Facebook channels? Is there a system interconnection between NetBase and your core CRM system. How do you “match” customers and posts together?­

A: We created a Facebook Support tab that lives on the T-Mobile Facebook page where customers can chat among themselves, get self-help content, or engage with T-Force directly to get an issue resolved. SAP is our CRM that brings these social posts “offline” and where my team resolves, it brings in all the data that customers who post on our properties have that is public (email, phone, etc.).  What isn’t shared publicly we gather offline and resolve from there. While SAP isn’t tied to our larger CRM at this time, that is something we are actively working on and plan to have implemented in the future.

Gina Q: ­Does marketing own any of the engagement or does that all fall to Michelle’s team?

A: Engagement for T-Mobile is shared between marketing and T-Force (my team).  Because we find that most support issues come up within the first 2 hours of a Facebook post or a Tweet, my team handles engagement for the first 2 hours, always. From there, our marketing agency partners take over engagement so that we can focus on resolution. It’s been a great way for both teams to engage and resolve efficiently.

Robert Q: ­Can NetBase analyze information from YouTube channels?­

A:  At this time we don’t actively engage in YouTube and to my knowledge this isn’t supported by NetBase as of yet – I will defer to their product team for when to expect it in their suite of services.

“a b” Q: ­How does NetBase help you keep track of competitive information?­

A:  The basic topics provide competitive analysis and the tool also allows us to compare any topic against our brand and others. So, it comes down to the fact that it’s easy to put themes on topics and customize for the level of data you are going after.

Paul Q: ­What effect has this solution had on customer churn and acquisition rates?­

A: This solution came at the perfect time for T-Mobile, as we launched at the same time our Un-Carrier strategy was announced in the marketplace. In having made the investment in these tools and launching them at the same time, we were able to provide rich data to our C-level execs to reinforce that our brand strategy was resonating in the marketplace – thus, the carry forward of each Un-Carrier iteration. The overall T-Mobile strategy of Un-Carrier and laser focus on changing the wireless industry – a lot we do through social has improved our churn rates and our acquisitions. Q4 2012 was our best year yet!

Wissam Q: ­For customer service/support, are there some expectations regarding response times and best practices? Trying to understand how they measure customer satisfaction from a support perspective.

A: Great question!  Our general expectation is that our team responds to customer posts on our social properties as close to real time as possible – however, we know that isn’t always possible. With that said, our goal is to reply to an initial post within 15 minutes – we are usually well under that. We also have a survey we send to customers that helps us gauge resolution, efficiency, etc. – it is sent once the issue is resolved and we typically run at 95% resolution! We also look at overall resolution times and we monitor other things that are important to our business, but are not hard metrics (adjustments, etc.).

Carolina Q: ­Does your marketing team also use NetBase/SAP?

A:  Yes, we collectively use NetBase and are in the process of on-boarding the marketing agencies into SAP for engagement.

Robert Q: ­How are you evaluating the impact of frustrated customers sharing their issues in social on prospects who are using those channels to learn about the brand?­

A: The interesting thing about our approach with this is that we’ve always let customers say what they need to say. Even when it gets brutal from our perspective, we believe transparency is key. The beauty of this is that we’ve seen really frustrated customers come back and personally thank the team for helping them. We love to see detractors turn into influencers and we have a lot of those examples because we aren’t afraid to let people see what’s being said about our brand.

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