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Case Study: How a German Utility Company Used Social Listening to Improve Customer Experience

Building rapport and trust with your customers on social channels is an increasingly important part of customer service in all sectors. The modern social savvy customer expects a quick response and comprehensive answers no matter the time of day, a tough ask for even the biggest multinational companies, let alone for small to mid-size enterprises.

Dealing with such round-the-clock enquiries can be a major challenge when you have hundreds and thousands of customers, but using social listening companies can get to grips with these problems, as one major German utility company discovered.  In our latest case study, co-written with our German partner Radiosphere, we looked at the example of a how a German public utility company or “Stadtwerke” used Talkwalker’s social data intelligence in their everyday operations to improve their customer experience, directly leading to retained customers and increased revenue.

To get a fuller knowledge of just how companies can use social listening to improve customer experience you’ll need to download the full case study, but here is a quick look at what the company achieved:

1. Improved customer communication during a crisis

Alert subscription

Example of a Talkwalker alert for a power outage

When heavy rainfall got into the power distributors causing a blackout in parts of a major German city, the Stadtwerke needed to react quickly. Information had to be relayed quickly between departments and communicated to customers.  The utility company we examined used a combination of effective alerting based on social mentions of key terms like “blackout” and “power outage”, combined with a redirection of customer phone calls to social media channels to make sure customers got the information they needed as fast as possible. The result was positive feedback from customers and a general sense of understanding and appreciation for the timely updates.

2. Retained 60% of “eager to switch” customers

spikes in user conversation

Spikes in user conversation over the course of one week

Since the German energy industry was opened up to greater competition in 1998, the battle to acquire new customers has been fierce. At present, 45 million customers in Germany can choose from a selection of about 1,000 energy providers so identifying potential churn is key. The Stadtwerke used Talkwalker’s social media monitoring to do just that. By tracking social mentions of phrases like “change of provider”, the company was able to gauge spikes in “switching” conversations and then send this information to sales and marketing officers who were able to react in close to real-time. As a result, conversations about switching to other providers died down after 4-6 weeks and the company was able to retain 390 of 650 customers (or 60%) who showed an intention to switch leading to a financial gain of close to 200,000 euros.

3. Developed a 24/7 social customer service command center

abstract depiction of the social command center

Abstract depiction of the social command centre of a German energy provider

For companies that receive thousands of customer enquiries a day on multiple online and offline channels, having a comprehensive customer service solution is critical. For the Stadtwerke, monitoring customers’ enquiries coming from social channels was particularly difficult and a lot of social enquiries were slipping through the net. To fix the problem, they decided to equip their external customer service center with Talkwalker’s social listening and assign specialised social customer service officers to handle social enquiries. By combining this with a clear channel of communication between the external provider and the staff at the Stadtwerke, they were able to create a 24/7 social customer service command center to make sure they monitored all customer enquiries on all online and offline channels.

As the example above shows, social listening isn’t just about getting a general idea of discussions online. Companies are using insights from social data to make major improvements to their business that have a direct effect on the bottom line.
And although this case study looked at a company in the utilities industry, the ways in which they used Talkwalker’s social data intelligence can be applied to many other sectors. To get a better understanding of just how companies are using social listening in their operations download the full case study.

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