Lithys 2018: AARP - Social Support Champion

Lithys 2018: AARP - Social Support Champion

Company: AARP

Company background: AARP is the nation’s largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to empowering Americans 50 and older to choose how they live as they age. For more than 60 years, AARP has been serving its members by creating positive social change and delivering value through information, advocacy and service.

Contact: Tisa Sinclair

Title: Social Response Director

Related URLs: AARP: FacebookAARP: TwitterAARP: InstagramAARP: LinkedinAARP: YouTube

Lithy category: Social Support Champion

1. What were your organization’s social customer service initiatives in 2017-2018?


 The AARP Social Response Team forges the ongoing social care strategies, processes, and official responses to AARP consumers as they interact with our social media content across channels. This program, which was stood up in 2016, is a key feedback component to the AARP Experience strategy. 

Our strategic pillars guide our goals: to Monitor, Consult, Engage. We want to act as the real-time beacon for AARP ‘outside-in” brand identity and reputation.  It is important that we develop and focus on an intimate, empathetic relationship with our members through conversation to build trust and positive sentiment towards the organization and our brand. 

 Working across multiple Facebook pages, private Facebook Messenger messaging, Twitter accounts, and additional engagements in YouTube, LinkedIn, and Instagram, the team ensures coverage to meet the AARP members in their social media channels of choice.

 Our goal for the 2017-2018 year was to focus on these key initiatives to improve the customer experience via social:

 Centralization and Consistency – One of our main priorities in 2018 was centralization. With hundreds of AARP social media assets being run by different, independent teams, we began funneling our social channels into one tool to engage (Lithium), ensuring all answers across properties were consistent and that all processes scale. 

 Thoughtfulness in language – Empathetic language is key to many of our conversations, particularly when we converse around sensitive topics like caregiving. We worked extensively with our in-house caregiving team to ensure our agents create very intimate, human, and validating language for those facing challenges that can take an emotional toll caring for their aging family members. 

 Educating and Advocating – As a social mission organization, we are constantly educating consumers on social as to the value of an AARP membership, where we stand on issues, and what AARP is/is not as an entity. By stepping into conversations where some consumers may have preconceived perceptions of us, we can directly influence the interaction and turn detractors into promoters, which is powerful within such a public channel.


Surprise and Delight – As we build our pool of brand ambassadors it is important to recognize them. Over time we are seeing members of our community backing up our comments or jumping in to answer other consumers before we even get to them, which is so encouraging as we work to enhance our brand perception. Sometimes if we see a lot of ‘cheerleader’ activity, we will write them a handwritten note and send along a gift of some kind (maybe a gift card or AARP branded item related to the topic they were engaged in). 


2. What was the most important customer issue you were looking to solve via your digital technology (e.g. community and/or social media management platform)? What makes your approach to customer satisfaction a gold standard in the industry?

As noted earlier, we wanted to focus on improving our centralization and response consistency to deliver an engaged, conversational experience to the 50+ community by creating frictionless interactions across all touchpoints.

 Since the Social Response function is still relatively new, we are now meeting the long-awaited demand that was not being met at all in our social channels. As a result, all teams that engage with our consumers do so in one social engagement tool (Lithium Social Engagement) so we can centralize operations. This also alleviates us not to have to respond natively in each channel.

 Currently, the team fields around 60,000 conversations a month, with about 6-8,000 responses generated per month. So the addition of this new operation has widened the interaction channel choice for our consumers so we can be there to meet them.

 In addition, we are now able to process ALL of our inbound social media messages through one pipeline in real time: they're tagged, sorted and assigned to the right agents with the right priority to enable fast, accurate responses for our customers. It lets us easily pull signals from the noise of messages pouring in from various AARP social media properties on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn, and our Lithium Communities, and facilitates conversations with members across these platforms in an integrated, easy-to-use user interface.

3. Please share customer satisfaction metrics, both qualitative and quantitative, as well as agent and response time metrics (e.g. CSAT, decreased customer complaints, call deflections, agent SLA, manual processes eliminated)

As our social response team is still quite new at two years, our interactions are still quite a small distribution of our total ‘support’ volume (at about 2%), so as we continue to ‘wire in’ more of our social properties to widen the amount of channels, we will be able to see deeper effects on NPS, membership renewals, and membership lifetime value numbers. Volume also ebbs and flows based on the amount of social campaigns we run and the political environment.

Other metrics include:

Overall Increased Engagement

By funneling our social outposts into one tool to engage, the team is now responding in additional channels including Instagram, LinkedIn, Google Play (AARP Now app reviews), article comments, as well as additional Facebook pages including Foundation, and AARP Advocates. This resulted in a 10% increase in overall engagement volume YoY, and ensured that all of our messaging across properties were consistent and that all processes scale.



With this boost of engagement on our social channels over the past two years, our Facebook and Twitter Voice of Customer (VOC) pipeline has grown so much in social that these two channels now make up 40% of the incoming feedback pipeline (others are in calls, emails, and NPS surveys).


Positive Sentiment

We receive a significant amount of engagement on our caregiving posts, and decided to enhance our interactions by crafting our responses to be more empathetic and validating in nature, and therefore, non-template based.  Our goal was to treat these new interactions as casual conversations among friends so members feel reassured that they’re talking to a real person as opposed to a bot.

 As a result, the team has worked hard to implement a more empathic, intimate, and personal approach on responding to our caregiving comments. This is key if we want to be one of the most intimate American brands, and it is paying off. In the past few months, we raised our overall positive sentiment distribution by 6% through these specific engagements.


 Here are some engagement examples:



Cost reduction – Since a social interaction costs us around .82 vs a phone call at $3.36 we’ve seen a roughly 24% cost reduction by using this channel for support. But of course we are also meeting some extra demand that we were not before as well.

NPS – Although we do not directly survey our members in social, the social channel is added into our total support distribution funnel, of which we have seen a jump in our general NPS score from a 48 in Q1 to a 49.5 in Q2 of 2018.

Commentary – Social Response engagements consistently drive 20-30% of total engagement on our Facebook channel depending on what campaigns are being run. We are looking to see this increase as we start to centralize our state Facebook pages within these counts.

Demand Drivers – Members go to different support channels to ask different questions or converse on different AARP topics. We found that our social channels have the largest distribution of Advocacy engagements than any other channel, along with questions about general AARP benefits.



Phone = 1,125

Email = 3,044

Chat = 37

Written = 41

Social = 3,195



So proud of working for this team and helping our members via social!