Lithys 2014: Vodafone Australia - Lithium Platform Innovator

Lithys 2014: Vodafone Australia - Lithium Platform Innovator

Company: Vodafone Australia Vodafone logo.png

Entry submitted by: Timothy Hanslow (Tim_h) Community Care Manager

Community: Vodafone Community (

Lithy category: Lithium Platform Innovator



Vodafone Australia is the third biggest mobile network provider in Australia and has a 20-year history of providing excellent value to its customers. In 2010, network issues driven by the sharp uptake in smartphone use created problems for our customers, that saw our customer sentiment and NPS drop rapidly. The launch of Vodafone Community came at a time when our customers needed support, a place to share, talk to one another and to get information to us, and for us to talk to them directly. 


Vodafone launched the Community almost three years ago as a way for customers to communicate with us. It gave customers a voice to talk to us openly and publicly. We loved the Community for the customer interactions, their honesty in saying “me too” with other’s issues, and their support and information in solving one another’s issues. Lithium provided the platform we wanted to get the incredible expertise our customer base and let them work together. We named the Community because of its goals. Our customers were going to be having these conversations anyway so we wanted to ensure we were part of them. 


We’ve built something genuinely exciting and different on top of the platform.


Our community is modified a lot from a default Lithium Community with major changes already made to the layout and functionality available. We’ve taken the amazing functionality of the platform and rearranged it to fit our needs and used REST to build whole new functionality on top of it.


New options
We’ve repurposed labels in the forums as a new type of content tag and tied it into our other custom work to tie in with data stored per user. We’re displaying content in colour coded groups across the top of threads. Users are using labels without even realising it.

New custom content stored on user profiles allows us to store “devices” for a user to identify which mobile/s they are using and which they’ve had in the past. We display this information on their user profile and in their avatar hover. We tie this data together with the repurposed labels (two different data sets) and indicate on a thread where the conversation is about the device a user has. It adds a quick visual flag that this conversation would have something of value, or that they can add value too.


Forum navigation has been replaced with a custom component that displays the forum navigation structure above the fold. We’re letting people get to content quickly and see the options available to them without scrolling or hiding it behind multiple tabs.


“My devices”  is a custom built set of pages displaying content matching labels. We custom built product pages to house related conversations and piece them together with labels. We’ve designed it to use 1 or multiple labels in a single page and a label can exist in multiple pages. This allows us to drive customers to a single point of interaction for a topic of interest, even when those posts fall into multiple boards and categories. 


Vodafone Australia Best5.jpg

Avatars across the site now feature a hover card that displays username, posts, kudos, custom device data, etc. It provides a great deal of information on demand but keeps it out of the way when not in use. The other major driver was to get information about our members visible in multiple places. You can quickly see a users details from whatever page you see their avatar. Leaderboards, contributors, post histories, recent posts, etc.


Page stats are now featured on each page at the top right. This varies from page types but shows details like total view count, contributors and their avatars, post count, etc. We use this across the boards, forums, categories, user profiles and REST keeps it updated in real time. It provides a common visual anchor to the top right page.


User logon and profile details are moved into an interactive dropdown at the top right. We’ve minimised the text at the top of the forums but left the options accessible by creating a widget that expands on mouse click. Users can quickly get to their profile, community help or sign out without taking up screen real estate.


Vodafone Australia Best6.jpg


“My Posts” is a new sidebar widget showing the last posts a user made. To keep engagement high and let people return to conversations in progress we show them the last posts they were in on every page. It’s one click from wherever you are to get back into a thread you recently posted in. It keeps users on site and moving in conversations they want to take part in.


Redesign of existing options

Forum threads now run a 3 column layout with a tiny left column containing the avatar. We’ve recreated the avatar=>post relationship from other social channels to let users quickly visually scan for posts from known entities. We’ve then pulled all the non post specific data and moved into the avatar hover cards. The result is a clean simple interface without a left column of data to get in the way. As users read left to right we’ve minimised clutter to the left to keep people engaged in the conversation.


The sidebar has been moved into forum threads and contains similar content across the Community. We dynamically adjust widgets and deliver the same type, but different specific content on all pages.


“Post a message” lives at the top right column across the entire community. From boards, forums, topics and even the front page users are one click away from jumping into the conversation. We’ve removed the barriers and prevented people from searching for the right place to post and just made it as simple as possible for them to contribute.


Our TKB has two significant design changes, authors are out and contributors are in. We’ve  reshuffled the fields and only show the contributors to a post and not the author. This lets our internal team publish, edit and work with content from our members but keeps the contributors as the public face.  It’s another big way to reward our users for the content they produce without needing them to do extra work to see their name in lights.


We’ve also built custom javascript to hide elements of a TKB article from a query string passed via the URL. We’re using this to personalise articles for users as we need to, but leaving the full article content ready for others to find. We’re taking a full set of troubleshooting steps and showing people just what they need to see. The best of both worlds.


Our NPS continues to climb, and month on month customer sentiment improves. The Community page views and unique visitors continue to climb quarter on quarter.


Our new features are providing tangible benefit to customers with a direct uplift in resolution rates, and a decrease in time to resolution. Both staff and super users are engaging in a higher % of posts and delivering consistently better results because of customer profile data.

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Lithium Alumni (Retired)
Status changed to: 2014 Lithy Submission