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Lithys 2017: Coles- Social Support Champion

Lithys 2017: Coles- Social Support Champion

At Coles we strive to deliver a fast and efficient response to our customer queries through our 24 hour internal Sundown Promise. We implemented Lithium SMM for Service to help us deliver on this customer promise.



Coles.pngCompany:  Coles                                                              

Entry submitted by: Cinzia Maniatis (Social Media Lead)


Lithy category:  Social Support Champion


Coles Group is a major group of supermarkets, fuel and liquor stores, serving millions of customers every week, through our; 

  • 780 supermarkets
  • 860 liquor stores (Liquorland, Liquor Market, Vintage Cellars and First Choice Liquor)
  • 690 fuel convenience stores (Coles Express)

In addition to our fleet of stores, our Coles Online service provides food and liquor delivery across every state and territory.

Coles was the first supermarket in Australia to launch an in-store fashion range, Mix – a collection of clothing and accessories.


More recently, Coles launched Coles Financial Services, offering car, home and landlord insurance. Finally, Australia’s most popular loyalty program, flybuys is synonymous with the Coles brand.


Our social customer service initiatives

Our primary goal for the 2016-17 year was to transform our social customer service in order to provide our customers with a unified experience across all brands and to be one integrated voice of the customer for our organisation. Just after acquiring Lithium Social Media Management (SMM) for Service, our community management was transitioned to an outsourced provider and a completely new team. While this presented us with a challenge, it offered us the opportunity to revamp our processes and become part of a combined Customer Experience Centre. Our community managers are now highly crossed skilled and manage twelve Coles Group pages across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for:

  • Coles Supermarkets
  • Liquorland
  • First Choice
  • Vintage Cellars
  • flybuys
  • Mix Apparel
  • Coles Financial Services

They are able to manage a very complex range of customer requirements from applying refunds to Coles Online orders to dealing with ACCC reportable high priority product issues. This knowledge empowers them to understand all the different ways that our customers can engage with our brand and gives us visibility of all contact made with our brands, to ensure we are providing a consistent level of service.


As a result, the Customer Voice Team at Coles is able to deliver powerful reporting to our internal stakeholders that is making a great impact. This reporting from social is integrated with customer experience survey data and other Customer Care contact data to provide a unified voice of the customer to stakeholders.


An example of this impact is when a recent change to a Coles product range saw a spike in Social Media comments from customers. The category team responsible for the change was initially unconcerned by the feedback, but by providing granular reporting around the customer sentiment and volume of contacts, we were able to demonstrate to the business the need to make corrective changes to the product. 


How we deliver a quick response time

At Coles we strive to deliver a fast and efficient response to our customer queries through our 24 hour internal Sundown Promise. We implemented Lithium SMM for Service to help us deliver on this customer promise. Due to the highly complex nature of our business, we have structured our tagging to report down to a very detailed level including all stores. We have 3275 tags and utilise these to escalate a high volume of contacts to ensure we not only listen to our customers, but we truly act on their feedback. Lithium SMM has enabled us to prioritise our incoming social contacts to respond to each in an appropriate timeframe.


Some examples of how this comes to life are:


  1. During our Christmas and Easter “All Check-outs Open” campaigns the Social team was able to prioritise all customer service related posts and provide instant feedback to individual store managers and regional managers when customers highlighted stores that did not have all check outs open. This enabled immediate remediation at the stores to ensure compliance.
  1. While social media feedback is often negative, our Social Media team is also sending positive feedback from customers to store teams on a daily basis to celebrate the positive work and customer experiences the teams are delivering.

Our results

We often receive over twenty thousand customer contacts in a week, and average over ten thousand responses to our customers each month. The followers of the accounts we manage currently totals 1,606,717. Our average response handle time by our community managers is eight minutes faster than our Customer Care Agents.