Case Study

British Gas Leverages Lithium Social Media Management for Better Social Customer Care

British Gas is the UK's leading energy supplier, serving more than 11 million homes and one million UK businesses. When British Gas ventured into the world of social media, they initially lacked a clear direction, guidance and understanding of how to operate in this arena.

They didn't realize the massive opportunity waiting for them and the flood of customers that would engage with them on social. They knew they needed a scalable social care solution that could help with both customer care and engaging key influencers.

  • Goal

    Build trust in a brand where little exists today by creating a helpful social customer care organization that facilitates meaningful conversations.

  • Solution

    Leverage Lithium Social Media Management for better social customer care and proactive conversations.

“We were really conscious that people were talking to us on social, but we didn't really have a way to organize that data. Lithium Social Media Management has enabled us to get those customer queries finalized, completed and fully resolved in a short period of time.”

— British Gas

How did you develop a top-tier social customer care team?

In 2014, we continued our mission to innovate in order to drive growth and service excellence, all while continuing to work hard to win customers’ trust. Affordability is a key concern for both residential and business customers and our extensive coverage is both a strength and a responsibility. In the beginning, we had 4 people skilled to deal with contacts on Twitter and Facebook. However, we only had 1 person responding to customers 6 hours a day and this was only if calls were not busy or they weren’t needed on webchat. We soon enlisted Lithium Social Media Management to upgrade our social care efforts. Today, we have a team of 16 full time employees, responding from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. 7 days a week.

What is British Gas’ take on response times?

Our customers are at the heart of everything we do so we asked all of our followers across Twitter, Facebook and Google+ for their opinions on response times, to make sure we could meet their expectations. We found that our customers don’t want an immediate response, they just want the right response. This allows us to take the time to make sure we do everything for the customer and as a result have set our general response time to less than 2.5 hours.

How do you escalate urgent queries?

We understand that in our business some queries require a quicker response and an escalation plan. Lithium Social Media Management allows us to recognize these posts and prioritize easily in the platform so they are handled immediately and efficiently. For example:

  • Vulnerable customers-Having heating or not can be a life or death situation for our most vulnerable customers. We make sure to prioritize these posts and respond within 30 minutes
  • Time sensitive appointments–Tweeting us on where an engineer is, when you need to go pick up your son or daughter from school, is a priority, and we understand that and strive to respond within 45 minutes

British Gas develops a top-tier social customer care team. Learn how British Gas reached 800+ proactive conversations per month and reduced their response time to 2.5 hours or less with Lithium Social Media Management. Watch the video

How do you integrate social care with other facets of the organization?

We found that 74% of customers contacting us on social have already contacted British Gas through another service channel and, unfortunately, they have been failed by that channel. We have to make sure when they came through social, we are the final contact. Lithium Social Media Management helps us accomplish that. We upskilled the social care team across all business areas, with a target of less than 10% of contacts being transferred out of the social team – a great achievement for our team. We’re working with the larger team on sharing best practices and lessons learned, in order to ratify through the entire organization.

Tell us how you are now being proactive with social.

This year, we have been reaching out to social media commentators who are in situations where they need help, but do not mention British Gas. We’re having 800+ meaningful conversations per month with people to rebuild trust in our brand. We’ve worked closely with the Lithium Social Media Management team to use the platform so these conversations can be identified, brought in and served to the appropriate team. Plus, Social Media Management allows us to have these conversations with influential commentators by delivering conversations from commentators, and we’re able to know more about these influencers by leveraging Klout.

This activity is about rebuilding trust in a brand, where it doesn’t exist anymore. If a commentator is talking about having a cold shower due to a broken boiler, we’re intercepting the conversation with a link to a self-diagnosis tool on our website. This isn’t about selling our Home Service products, but this is simply about showing the commentator we can be helpful. We step away from the customer once we have sent the helpful content and we don't re-engage, unless the customer asks for it. Behavioral economics show, by being helpful in these types of situations, if presented with your brand in the future, you will be perceived in a more favorable light. This strategy is helping us build relationships with key influencers and stakeholders and has had a +5 impact on our brand sentiment score.

What has been the impact of using Lithium Social Media Management?

Our agent scores and channel opinion are now significantly higher than voice, email and webchat customer service. Over the next 12 months, we will work with these channels to gain feedback on how social media is working and how we can best integrate into their areas. Ownership and full resolution in one contact is of paramount importance to social media care, and this is now coming through in our results.

At British Gas, our goal is to put the customer first. Lithium Social Media Management has allowed our social care team to spend time dealing with the customer instead of filling out Excel spreadsheets.