How Social Customer Service Pays Off in 45 Case Studies

I’m afraid we all agree that unfortunately, at least at this point in time, social media is much more chaff than wheat. Nonetheless there is a growing and already impressive list of success stories that are worth sharing, especially when there is some sort of ROI or clear business benefit attached to them.

So why not doing it? That’s the goal of this post.

I’ll keep it synthetic and straight to the point by focusing specifically on social customer service and leaving it to other future posts to address additional Social CRM or employee empowerment use cases.

Before getting to real case studies and numbers, let’s have a look at the most important measurable business benefits social support is expected to deliver:

  • Direct deflection – Customers receive a direct answer through a social channel (range 15 – 40% of threads that result in a deflected call)
  • Indirect deflection – Customers find  an existing answer in a community and don’t need to call (range 20 – 40% of visits deflected)
  • Agent efficiency – Agents close cases faster and answer more questions without escalating to others (improvement range 15 – 60%)
  • Churn reduction – Lower number of customers that move to competitors or cancel the service in a given time period thanks to social channels (improvement range 20 – 40%)
  • Early issue identification – Identification and solution of costly product / service issues faster ($5K – 50K for each incident)
  • Customer satisfaction – The ability to better serve customers in their preferred channels, response time, tone of voice and through really helpful information.
  • First contact resolution rate – The ability to address customers’ need the first time they contact the organization, eliminating the need to follow up with a second request or an escalation to a different (and quite always more costly) channel.

The following 45 case studies show a mix of such benefits. Nonetheless they have been specifically selected for their attention to quantitative and quantified effects:

  1. A1 Telekom – 25% real substitution rate (customers leveraging the community instead of a traditional support channel). 168K interactions saved per year. 26% of community users found the solutions within a few minutes (Lithium)
  2. Activision – 25% call deflection through IVR and social media self-service (First Direct)
  3. ADTRAN – 22% drop in support tickets for enterprise products and reduction in call handling time (Jive)
  4. AT&T – 16% improvement in call deflection. 21K customer issues solved in 1 year (Lithium)
  5. Autodesk – the online community brought a 25% call deflection for a value of $6.8M in cost savings in 2011. +10% in NPS after 6 months (Lithium)
  6. AvidxChange – 40% call deflection in the first 6 months. 60% call deflection after 12 months. Support turnaround decreased 50%, now averaging 15 minutes. Increased customer base 5x with only one additional support tech. 80% of customers use the community for support and training (Telligent)
  7. Bandwidth – A self-service and peer to peer community achieved a 35% reduction in overall tickets requests and 50% reduction of informational tickets (Jive). Saving of tens of thousands of dollars each month.
  8. Barclays – customer retention improved by 25%. Customer complaints reduced by 50%. Annualized benefits exceed $10M (Lithium)
  9. Best Buy – 2600+ members in the Twelpforce answer customer 20K requests per quarter in less than 12 minutes on average. $5M+ benefits / year through call deflection and sales influence (Lithium)
  10. Bonobos – From 50% to 90% of inquiries handled in less than 1h (Gartner)
  11. BSkyB – A help forum, Facebook and Twitter saved 570 customer service hours in 19K calls. 29% of surveyed customers say they no longer need to call for help. +90% in resolution rate through 1-to-1 live-chat. Increase of customer satisfaction to 87%. (Lithium)
  12. BT – 54K calls deflected / month. 90% customer retention. 50% customers recommend the brand to their peers.
  13. Cisco – Its Technical Assistance Center achieved reduced time to resolution by 32%, reduced case escalations by 42% and case transfers by 11%. The savings from the online community amounted to $7M in the first year and $32M are expected over the following 3 years (Lithium)
  14. Citrix – Call volume reduced by 30% through peer to peer knowledge sharing (Jive)
  15. Dell – 20-50% of customer questions answered online. $1M+ saved / year (Forrester)
  16. DirecTV – 8 customers handling 228K questions / month (First Direct)
  17. FICO – 8M messages read per month. 1% call deflection (vs 23% increase the year before) and 10% calls redirected to the online community (Lithium) decreasing average support call length. The community generates 39% of web traffic from search engines and 13% of all sales involve viewing a community page.
  18. Fotomoto – 300% growth in user base, 5x increase in order volume with a 30% decrease in weekly support calls thanks to stored peer to peer conversations and a two tier Social CRM solution (GetSatisfaction)
  19. Giff Gaff – 130K online requests / month, 95% answered online within 90 seconds on average thanks to 1M+ replies. 20% of customers contribute to the online forum (First Direct, Lithium)
  20. HP – A support forum hosts 500M posts, handles 40M customers and 20% of customer care requests globally for a $50M per year ROI. 100K customers are involved together with 230 HP experts. 95% of content comes from customers directly (Lithium)
  21. IBM – developerWorks community saves $100M support costs annually from 8M developers and IT professionals who leverage this resource instead of reaching out to IBM support (Forrester, IBM)
  22. Infusionsoft – From 1 agent for 55 customers and 77% customer satisfaction rating to a 1 agent to 172 customers ratio and a CSAT rating of 87% (Forrester)
  23. Intuit ( – 47K topics in 12 months. 75% reduction in support tickets after 90 days. 50% of web traffic attracted through search engines (GetSatisfaction, Forrester)
  24. Kaseya – 14x increase in request answered by customers and prospects. Increased customer participation by 300% year over year (Telligent)
  25. Kiddicare – 30% reduction in inbound customer communications and first-call resolution rate increased from 60% to 98% through a community based support (GetSatisfaction)
  26. Lenovo – 20% call reduction from direct and indirect deflection through a support forum. 30 members contributed 44% of the solutions (Forrester, Lithium)
  27. Linksys – 120K+ calls indirectly and 1K call directly deflected per month (Lithium)
  28. McAfee – 58% of community users are able to self-resolve their issues. 25% call volume drop with overall customers number increasing. 17% improvement of the first call resolution rate. Escalation rates cut down 30%. Customer satisfaction increased by 25% and loyalty by 33%. Call-handling costs have been reduced by $2.6M per year (Jive)
  29. Mindjet – 20% decrease in support call. Significant decrease in repetitive case rates (GetSatisfaction, Salesforce)
  30. National Instruments – 46% of  all questions answered by an online developers community instead of support. $7.5M in call deflected annually (Jive, Lithium)
  31. Prezi – 150K+ call deflected for an annual saving of $450K+ thanks to 46K+ users (TSIA, GetSatisfaction)
  32. Rhapsody — 50% decrease in support costs and 53% decrease in weekly support contacts moving from a traditional forum to a Social CRM platform (GetSatisfaction)
  33. Sephora – The most active fans spend an average of 33 hours / month in the expert community spending 10x than the average customer (Lithium)
  34. Skype – A support network reduced customer calls by 10% with a first contact resolution rate of  70% (Lithium)
  35. Springpad – Reduced support emails 80% yet increasing the customer base (GetSatisfaction)
  36. StrongMail – 97% of customers received answers or had issues resolved through an online community. 50% of   support call reduction (Jive)
  37. T-Mobile – 96% resolution rates within 3 days and 70% not escalated issues through online discussions. (Lithium)
  38. Telefonica Movistar – 25K posts per month. 45% of visitors were able to solve their issues online. €10M+ annually in call deflection (Lithium)
  39. TechSmith – Saves about $500,000 annually in staffing costs by collecting feedback and handling support request through a community based solution (GetSatisfaction)
  40. Time Warner Cable – 57% improvement in agent productivity. 30% improvement in social response through Twitter, Facebook and an online community (Lithium)
  41. TomTom – 20k cases handled online in 1 month. 15% contact deflection. 600 min average response time. $150K in savings. A single super-user accounted for 10% of the answers (Lithium)
  42. Ustream – 65% reduction in support tickets by integrating a customer facing forum to an internal collaboration platform (GetSatisfaction, Forrester)
  43. VolunteerMatch – 40% decrease in inbound support emails through 800+ topics and 1000+ users (GetSatisfaction)
  44. Yola – Supporting 2M customers with only 6 full-time customer-service employees. 60-70% in email based trouble tickets.A stated customer preference of 5-to-1 for community as the primary support channel (GetSatisfaction)
  45. Webtrends – 80% of questions asked in the community are answered by customers or are able to be answered by  self-service tools and documentation. The community cases are integrated with CRM (GetSatisfaction)

I know, among the many other visibile names that jumped on the social support bandwagon and that are not part of this list, Comcast is the clearly missing star. As stated initially, I’m searching for real numbers on real business benefits and I simply couldn’t find them for Comcast. I’m thus looking forward to adding it after having found a proper case study on Frank Eliason’s experience.

While I know this is an absolutely not exhaustive list of all of the stories available, I hope this initial set will be helpful to convince more companies to consider social as an additional component in an integrated seamless multichannel strategy in order to build more loyal and valuable customer relationships.

Any major case I’ve missed?



Thanks to Frank Eliason, I’ve found a post from Jacob Morgan with the following info on Comcast: 

Comcast – 14.9M unique visitors a month (back in 2010). 80% of them found an answer directly in the forums. Each call averages $8. Additional $1.2M were saved using Twitter to identify a service black-out during the NHL playsoff and putting up an automatic message (CMSWire)

Emanuele Quintarelli

Entrepreneur and Org Emergineer at Cocoon Projects | Associate Partner at Peoplerise | LSP and Holacracy Facilitator

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