When social media started to gain popularity as a way for businesses to interact with customers, us folks at Virgin Mobile Australia decided to take it one step further by adding an extra digital support platform (in addition to already providing exceptional customer support via Facebook and Twitter) for our customers to not only reach out to us, but connect with other like-minded customers in the form of an online community forum, powered by Lithium.
Company: Virgin Mobile Australia
Entry submitted by: Nicola Collins
Community: Virgin Mobile AU Community
Lithy category: Surprise & Delight
Virgin Mobile Australia is a cheeky Telco with around 1 million customers; we were founded by the one and only Sir Richard Branson, but are now a wholly-owned subsidiary of Optus.
When social media started to gain popularity as a way for businesses to interact with customers, us folk at Virgin Mobile Australia decided to take it one step further by adding an extra digital support platform (in addition to already providing exceptional customer support via Facebook and Twitter) for our customers to not only reach out to us, but connect with other like-minded customers in the form of an online community forum, powered by Lithium.
Although originally launched in late 2012 via the Lithium Community Platform, our Virgin Community support forum was unfortunately not a focus, it became underused and undervalued. It wasn’t on brand, or easy to use. We had members posting and not receiving responses from members or moderators, Knowledge Base articles were few and far between or contained outdated content, and our community was becoming a target for spam posts.
It was time to get to work on executing our Digital First strategy.
Our plan focused on optimising our digital service channels to ensure they were the first port of call for any type of enquiry.
We wanted community support to be the destination customers went to first; we wanted peers to help peers, share ideas and feedback, read, learn and support each other. We wanted to improve the experience and usability of the space to ensure Customers could find what they needed AND that they would want to come back. We wanted to foster a willing community, with members providing solutions and usable content for other members. We knew this wasn’t going to happen overnight, and it has been a work in progress ever since; continuously evolving and getting better.
Our 2016 Highlights
In 2016, we took back the reigns and with a little* bit of love and attention, we’ve been able to grow our community in every way. More posts, more users, more traffic, and....less calls. Here are some of our highlights:
*By little we mean a lot!
Investment & Education
We decided to take a leap and invest in our people; which resulted in the business creating two full time Community & Content Specialist Roles. These roles were designed with the intent of supporting the community manager in creating and delivering on strategies, moderating forums, optimising for search, and creating usable content for our Knowledge Base. Being able to access Lithium’s online learning modules was key for these roles, as they provided a deeper understanding of the mechanics of an online community.
Clean Up Community Day
The first large project our Community & Content Team worked on was a clean-up of our Support Community and Knowledge Base. We removed spam posts that had accumulated and any outdated articles in our Knowledge Base were archived. This helped to ensure customers would find only useful and relevant content and worked to build trust between customer and community.
With thanks to LSI reporting, we were able to conduct weekly analysis on top searched terms within our Support Community, and then create Knowledge Base articles based on the returned search results, providing specific content we knew people were looking for.
Let’s get on brand!
In 2016 we gave our community a much needed face lift; actually it was more like a complete redesign from the ground up.
We wanted customers to be able to quickly locate the content they needed, we wanted them to understand the difference between content from us (TKB) and content from other users (forums), we wanted them to participate and contribute, we wanted them to have an exceptional experience on any device and we wanted to do it in the uniquely-Virgin way.
As well as a whole new community structure, UX and design, we also created new avatars to add a bit of fun to the space, as well as personalised avatars for our Superusers.
Once we launched our new look community, we moved to implement our Community First Communications program. This program was about linking to the community first for any type of enquiry, from any channel.
When we experienced technical difficulties and network outages, Customers were directed to the community for the most up to date information. We now aim to have an article live within 15 minutes of an outage to ensure we maintain trust and reliability in the platform.
We also rolled out an internal linking strategy to make sure all support queries were directed first to Community Support. From our App to our IVR, all pointed to our Community First.
Next came our superuser program. After investing time reading threads, asking questions and reviewing blog posts in the Lithosphere, as well as completing online training courses provided by Lithium, our Community & Content Knowledge Specialists were armed with the information they needed to develop our first Superuser program, which included:
Our superusers have had a pretty awesome ride so far!
Take Doug, our first ever Community Support superuser AND star of our most recent Virgin Mobile commercial! Yeah, you read that right.
It went down like this; after successfully applying to the program, our superusers were tasked with helping to curate our community and be part of our mobile Tester Team, which saw them post reviews for new phones & devices on our YouTube channel. Our superusers became more engaged with the community AND with our brand, so we invited them to be part of a Very-Virgin campaign! Two of our superusers were able to commit and had an absolute blast – talk about superuser perks!
Without their contribution and participation in our Support Community, and the superuser program to help foster the relationship, neither our superuser, nor us, would have had these amazing opportunities.
Doing it differently
And we didn’t just do it in the Community. We love to surprise and delight our customers so much, that we actually have a Surprise & Delight program, which saw us connecting with over 75 customers across all of our social platforms.
This included reaching out to ten of our most loyal and socially active customers – we surprised them with a gift box including mobile phones signed by Richard Branson, and two of our very lucky and long standing social media customers got to meet Richard Branson himself. If that’s not the best way to surprise and delight a customer, we don’t know what is! Our Facebook post had a reach of more than 1 million!
In 2016, we also used our social reach to talk about the causes that are really important to us, such as RUOK Day, Meditation and mindfulness or donating meals to those that need them through our #mealforameal initiative.
It’s not just about what we give – we also receive from our customers! Our Social Media Team connect with customers at a different level; it’s not just business. We’ve received hand written cards, photos of our customers with their children and pets, as well as being sent gifts – we’ve even received a few kilos of choccies from a customer who is the CEO of a chocolate company!
2016 was a great year for our Community. So far we’ve:
And we’ve increased our NPS by +7 on the way!
While 2016 was awesome, we think 2017 will be even better and we can’t wait to see our Support Community continue to grow.
Come visit us sometime; https://community.virginmobile.com.au/
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