Building Customer Loyalty Using Social Media


Carolyn Blunt highlights a number of ways in which social media can be used to build customer loyalty.

In case you haven’t already heard, many organisations are turning to their Net Promoter Score  (NPS) to gauge customer loyalty and as an indicator of their ability to grow and survive in competitive markets.

The Net Promoter Score is based on the idea that every customer can be divided into one of three categories: Promoters, Passives, and Detractors.   NPS asks one simple question — How likely is it that you would recommend [Company X] to a friend or colleague. Customers respond on a 0-to-10 point rating scale and are categorised as follows:

  • Promoters (score 9-10) are loyal enthusiasts who will keep buying and refer others, fuelling growth.
  • Passives (score 7-8) are satisfied but unenthusiastic customers who are vulnerable to competitive offerings.
  • Detractors (score 0-6) are unhappy customers who can damage your brand and impede growth through negative word-of-mouth.

To calculate your company’s Net Promoter Score (NPS), take the percentage of customers who are Promoters and subtract the percentage who are Detractors. Scores of 50 to 80% are considered highly effective. However, it is not unusual to have an NPS efficiency of only 5 to 10%. In other words, Promoters barely outnumber Detractors.

Many organisations (and some entire industries) have negative Net Promoter Scores, which means that, each day, they are creating more Detractors than Promoters. These low scores may indicate why an organisation struggles to deliver profitable, sustainable growth, despite spending large amounts to attract new customers.

‘Brand NPS’ and ‘Contact NPS’

We can also separate out ‘Brand NPS’ and ‘Contact NPS’.  Brand NPS measures reputation and general perceptions of the brand.  It is also sometimes called ‘Relationship NPS’ as customers that have very little cause to contact in this category, e.g. utility companies that bill quarterly by direct debit.   On the other hand, Contact NPS, (also known as ‘Moment of Truth NPS’) is collected immediately after a direct interaction and asks customers to rate the experience.  These two measures, both using the same simple question, provide a wider range of NPS data that allows an organisation to monitor performance across teams and different types of interaction.

Use with caution

However, do use with caution.  NPS is a very specific measure driven by a range of factors. As a result, it is not truly possible to compare scores against companies in different industries or even against the same company in different countries.  Yet, NPS is a useful benchmark for your own organisation to monitor over time.  There is some debate as to how motivational sharing a low NPS with your contact centre teams can be.  You can decide whether to share  your current and target NPS with your contact centre teams, but it can be hugely helpful in providing a context for changes or for underpinning call quality.

What are customers saying about you online

As well as NPS it is important to know what customers are saying about your brand online.  Simple searches will reveal a great deal, but using a tool for ‘listening’ for mentions of your brand can help to reduce the trawl time and filter out the ‘near misses’ that are not actually anything to do with your brand.  There are many out there, one of the most popular is Salesforce’s Radian 6.

However, if you are not expecting an unmanageable social customer volume straight away then free, single user tools are available.  It is also worth looking at systems that are offered by your current contact centre system providers, these may integrate more easily.

Social Responses

As with all channels in your customer service strategy, managing the responses your advisers give is one part of it.  Social responses can be less formal than email and your advisers must know when to take the conversations offline.

However, constantly replying to tweets with ‘please call this number’ is not helpful.  If they wanted to call or email then they would have done so in the first place.

Don’t get defensive

Ensure your advisers are trained to communicate in the style that you want –it’s a very public platform if it goes wrong.  A lot of the same common sense customer service rules apply –never get defensive, never blame the customer, focus on the solution and be positive and responsive.

Deliver on your promises

The second consideration is having the workflow processes to back up what is required to deliver on promises made.

Topshop is one example that has fallen foul off this, with numerous rants appearing in online fashion communities and on Twitter about its ‘poor refund service for returned items’ and ‘no response to messages’.

Indeed, responding to online messages is a very simple way to save your organisation time and money and delight your customers.

Call Deflection


In April I had a problem with the water coming through the taps in my home.  It was brown.  I’m Generation X and have for decades reached for the telephone to report such issues, but United Utilities are a training client of ours and I watch their social customer service channel with interest.  So going against the grain of my programming, I tweeted the following:


While I was waiting I searched Twitter and immediately found the following from BBC Lancashire:

This reassured me that there was no point calling the United Utilities Call Centre.

Approximately an hour after I had tweeted later I got a reply from United Utilities:


A win – win situation

I saved myself the time and effort of calling in.  United Utilities saved themselves approximately £5 in the cost to handle my telephone call.  Everyone was a winner in this situation.  There may have been some room for a faster tweet response but anything up to 2 hours is generally acceptable.  Indeed there is a strong argument that online responses should not have priority over our traditional voice and email channels.  However, there is certainly an expectation for an element of speed, simply because it is so easy to post a short reply.

Emerging statistics from Telefonica company Giff Gaff indicate that the cost of serving customers via social media is around 4 times cheaper than using the telephone (and by the way their Net Promoter Score* is 75).

Whilst delivering customer service online might seem daunting, and you may have a job to convince anyone in your senior management team who is pre Generation Y that it is a good idea, no-one can argue that it doesn’t make good financial sense.

A 21st century customer hub

Carolyn Blunt

Carolyn Blunt

This isn’t about killing off the call centre, but evolving it into a 21st Century, multi-channel customer hub, that gives customers the right to choose how they interact with you and allows you to respond in a positive and time-efficient manner.  Now, when a customer may have only grumbled about you (not necessarily to you) you can listen for it and proactively solve the problem.  Now, that sounds to me like the next generation of customer service we’ve all been dreaming of.

Carolyn Blunt is a contact centre training expert with Real Results Training and was voted in the top 10 most respected people in the UK Contact Centre industry.

Published On: 4th Jul 2012 - Last modified: 11th Dec 2017
Read more about - Customer Service Strategy, , , ,

Recommended Articles

A picture of social media thought bubbles above cartoon people
Social Media Customer Service – Small but Deadly?
A Low-Down on Social Media Customer Complaints
Social media and customer service: Facebook vs. Twitter
Get the latest exciting call centre reports, specialist whitepapers and interesting case-studies.

Choose the content that you want to receive.