As Edelman began our relationship as the social media agency of record for Volkswagen of America in April of 2011, one of our top priorities was to find a solution that addressed social media customer service on our owned properties. After an initial evaluation period of observing how customers were using Facebook and Twitter to interact with the brand, we determined that the majority of customers with issues were doing so in an effort to escalate questions and concerns centered on vehicles, parts, service and dealerships. We had also identified that the most efficient use of VW’s existing resources was to integrate these additional social media cases into the existing Volkswagen Customer CARE call center in Michigan which handles all mail, email and telephone cases for the brand.
In addition to integrating with VW’s existing process, we were also tasked with ensuring that social media escalations would adhere to the TREAD Act (Transportation Recall Enhancement Accountability and Documentation), which mandates that all automotive manufacturers track certain customer-reported issues and report them to the National Highway and Transportation Agency. This regulatory accountability process was prompted by the infamous Firestone Tire quality issues in the late 1990s and is designed to surface product defects so recalls be made proactively. Volkswagen’s Michigan team was already handling these issues for other communications channels, and as a team we decided they could also take on this tracking for social media.
With these parameters in place we worked to determine the right toolset for our community managers, keeping in mind our existing process and being mindful that the increased load would not disrupt or negatively impact other teams within the organization.
Desk.com was selected as the most efficient platform for moderation and escalation within social channels. In partnership with their team, we developed a solution in which every incoming post is monitored by our community managers – those which are appropriate for escalation must include first and last name, vehicle model and year and zip code prior to escalation.
Desk.com allows us to respond to every Customer CARE issue within social media; the Michigan team researches the customer, vehicle and incident to formulate a response that our community managers post back to the customer. Desk.com merged seamlessly into VW’s existing process and the effect has resulted in a direct increase in brand sentiment. More importantly, in our first seven months with Volkswagen the team monitored over 1.5 million posts and escalated nearly 1,500 cases to the Customer CARE team. Those customers would have been invisible to VW before we deployed our social Customer CARE program.
Consumers frequently write back after we resolve an issue to express thanks; we are now tracking this post-resolution sentiment and report it back to Volkswagen on a regular basis. Additionally, when we see a comment that would be of interest to Volkswagen’s product planners we escalate it internally so that team can spot trends that lead to strategic decisions based on what our community is saying. Volkswagen’s recent decision to bring the Golf R model to the United States was the direct result of consumer and enthusiast feedback; if enough people lobby on social media, that feedback could potentially lead to a similar change in the product lineup.
The feedback from Volkswagen has been incredibly positive. Our ability to answer customers so efficiently within social media and even shift sentiment is very effective. Most importantly, it demonstrates Volkswagen’s commitment to its customers and the products it sells in the United States.
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