Case Study

Optus Leverages the Lithium Platform to Reduce Costs, and Build Customer Loyalty

As Australia's second largest telecommunications provider, Optus is in the business of connecting people. They offer a broad range of communications services including mobile, telephony, internet, business network services, satellite services and subscription television to over 10 million customers every day. While they are a company that is focused on enabling homes and businesses with technology and entertainment, their vision is to lead Australia in providing outstanding customer experiences.

  • Goal

    To lead Australia in providing an outstanding customer experience.

  • Solution

    Leverage the Lithium Community Platform, Response, and Analytics to reduce costs, improve resolution rates, and build customer loyalty.

“The execution of our strategy in combination with attentive and responsive community management has seen us exceed the 350,000 incremental call reduction target by more than almost 60%, delivering a 230% increase on Opex saving. And this is just the beginning...”

— Karen Le, Community Manager, Optus

Tell us about your journey with a Lithium-powered community and Lithium Response.

Optus implemented a Lithium-powered community in early 2012. After the hard yards of community establishment were carried out, the focus on fully leveraging the asset was lost, resulting in stagnation and faltering interest from its 20,000 members.

The development of this year’s overarching Customer Service Strategy was firmly rooted in digital with the dual purpose of meeting the shift in customer expectation and reducing support costs. The underutilization of community based customer support was recognized as a key area of opportunity.

The resulting business objective was to actively utilize My Optus Community to deflect an incremental 350,000 calls from the call center during FY16 (March ’15 to April ‘16). In doing so, we would not only achieve in year financial benefits, but re-invigorate an asset and truly unlock the potential of peer-to-peer customer support.

In parallel, we also embarked on an ambitious goal of extending our best in class social response into the relatively unchartered territory of targeting apathetic competitor customers through active listening and considered engagement to generate sales.

What are the key strategies you have used to help meet these goals?

Our approach to achieving our ambitious cost reduction goals was made up of 3 parts:

  • Secure executive sponsorship: By constructing a narrative around best practice, both within and outside telco, we were able to successfully articulate the size of the opportunity offered through peer-to-peer support. This proved critical in the removal of barriers that presented themselves around internal positioning of the community as the default support channel as well as securing the resources required to make it a reality.
  • Strategy development: To capitalize on the executive sponsorship, we required the rapid development of a robust multi-pronged strategy which focused on three key pillars to drive call volume reduction, while ensuring that the customer experience was protected.
    • Drive increased traffic to the community
    • Increase the customer reported resolution rate
    • Retain and recognize community participation
  • Investment in people: The execution of the plan required the establishment of a small team of experienced community practitioners, that we capable of bringing the plan to life. This included a mix of internal staff with exceptional networks and external hires. The team was kept intentionally small (3 FTE) and dedicated to the delivery of the operational plan that was generated out of the strategy. This proved to be the single most important investment that we’ve made.

What has been the impact of your Total Community solution on your organization?

The combination of executive support, solid strategy and a focused team has delivered an outstanding set of outcomes for My Optus Community. We’ve seen significant impact in our traffic and resolution rates as well as the growth of our Super User program. Increased Traffic and visitation: We have seen a 107% increase in traffic to the community over the course of the past 12 months, which has been driven through a number of key initiatives. This has included the inclusion of contextually relevant widgets that surface community conversation through the optus.com.au website, inclusion of strong CTA’s on all electronic communication, but most importantly we’ve made the significant cultural change to position to community as THE default support channel for our Go To Market programs.

For example, when Optus launched a new mobile app in September, WiFi Talk (customers with limited indoor mobile coverage can use the app to make and receive calls over a WiFi connection), My Optus Community was used as the primary support channel and for the very first time all the customer broadcast communications directed customers to My Optus Community with a blog post with all of the key details. Over 67,000 people viewed the post and resulted in 230 comments on the thread, yet only 20 support calls logged about WiFi Talk issues. This has been successfully replicated a number of times since with equal success and is now considered BAU practice.

Resolution Rate: In a world first, we customized the way that the Tribal Knowledgebase (TKB) module is traditionally used to change the way articles are created and published. In doing so, we give community members the control to identify support content they want and think other members might need, allowing us to scale the volume of content available. Wiki articles can be nominated by the community, who can also make updates to the content, giving them power to help other members. Since we launched this module in September, 63 articles have been authored and received over 26,000 views.

Retain & Recognize: The implementation of a formalised super user program and the implementation of Premium Gamification has seen the contributions made from our super users increase by almost 300% year on year. This translates to almost 1,500 hours being spent in the community by our top 5 users. The program runs on a 6 month cycle, is built on deep personal relationships (that extends into the ‘real’ world) and actively recruits users from other communities based on a set of attributes.

You were recently recognized for your success with Lithium Response. Tell us more.

That’s right! The social service team has been consistently recognized as the #1 Socially Devoted brand in Australia by Social Bakers for the past 4 quarters. We also received a top 10 global award in Q1 2015.

The introduction of a sales capability into the response team has yielded some very encouraging early results. We have engaged almost 5,000 prospects over the course of the last year through intensive social listening. We have seen a staggering 89% engagement rate. Of those who did engage, we saw a 13% sales conversion which has contributed more than $400K of annualized revenue to the business. While the volumes remain relatively small, the performance of social as a prospecting channel significantly exceeds many of our traditional telesales cross sell campaigns.