Orange is a leading telecommunications company in Europe that has partnered with Synthesio, an international web monitoring and research company, to actively listen to and engage consumers online.
Orange telecommunications initially started out on the web by implementing a FAQ on their site, allowing customers to find answers to any number of problems or questions they might have had. Online for a dozen years or so, the objective was to respond to the larger number of questions posed by their clients. All in all, the FAQ was a rich resource for Internet users when it was first put into place. It had about 2,000 different cases and several topics like cell phones, Internet, TV, VoIP, etc.
The FAQ was a traditional web service that seemed to work well. Divided into several sections, it sent site visitors to the right answers via a questionnaire – and averaged 6 million visits per month !
However, the problems faced by Orange were multiple, according to Thomas Le Gac, Project Manager 2.0 for Orange :
- a FAQ doesn’t allow visitors to ask their own questions
- there were “so many different client requests” that it was impossible to answer every question
- clients and corporations don’t use the same language – so customers spent time searching for their answer or left unsatisfied
- you had to actually go to the official Orange site to use the FAQ ! Not very user-friendly for customers searching for a response – any response – where they could find it
Solution #1 : the Orange forum
Orange decided to put into place a much more interactive system that would allow visitors to pose their own questions and find the responses they were looking for much more easily.
They started working with Synthesio one year ago, at the same time when they put into place their own official Orange forum. The official forum allowed visitors to ask questions in their own phraseology and get answers from others just like them. Instead of being sent to the “right” answers, visitors to the Orange FAQ were sent to the forum thread that corresponded to their question.
The forum was self-regulated, meaning that only non-corporate web users were allowed to leave questions and answers. Orange, however, took it upon themselves to “certify” certain answers by placing a Stamp of Certification on those they felt were the best answers to user questions.
The forum receives about 15,000 visits per day – meaning about 15,000 service calls per day that Orange doesn’t have to answer themselves. They started to save money in their Hotline department almost immediately. As opposed to having only 2,000 answers available via their FAQ, they had now Certified over 1,000 forum responses and estimate that over 100,000 people have viewed them.
That’s 100,000 fewer Hotline calls.
What’s more, the Stamp of Certification recognized certain forum members as experts and leaders in that community, energizing them to contribute more and more often.
Solution #2 : a team of Web Consultants
However, Orange realized that they could – and should – go a step further. Instead of making clients come to them, Orange decided to go “fishing where the fish are” according to Thomas Le Gac. Also one year ago, Orange began listening to forums online with Synthesio, watching and learning how people interacted on forums and what they were talking about.
“One of our main challenges was to collect millions of opinions on a brand that has the same name as a fruit,” says Synthesio CEO & Co-Founder Loic Moisand. Le Gac and his team worked with Synthesio to identify the 5 top forums for Orange discussions. ”They were able to listen to forum conversations for a year before joining in on the conversations,” says Moisand.
Orange and Synthesio worked to analyze and engage in conversations with customers in real or near-real time. Synthesio’s analysts filtered through comments to identify them for positive or negative sentiment and assign them to pre-chosen categories, while Le Gac put into place a team of “web consultants” to respond to comments. After listening to conversations on the web, they were able to develop a chart of guidelines for intervening (or not) in forum discussions.
For example even before intervening, the Orange team asks permission from forum administrators so as not to intrude. They also identified certain moderator-like particiapnts that Le Gac refers to as “super contributors.” They are community participants that regularly post good answers to visitors’ questions. ”There are certain members of every forum that respond more often than others that should be identified,” says Loic Moisand.
Le Gac adds that “the rule of thumb is to let the ‘super contributors’ answer questions first. We don’t want to seem like competition to them, so our web consultants only answer when these ‘super contributors’ don’t have an answer.”
The response :
Since the implementation of Synthesio’s monitoring, Orange has been able to identify and solve numerous “collective problems”. Recently, for example, 40,000 clients signed up for a specific package complained of not receiving the amount of memory they had signed up for.
The customer service hotline answered questions from clients that called in, but the web team was able to detect the problem as a “collective problem” as the number of thread posts grew quickly. “Identifying weak signals is key to avoiding a major communications crisis,” says Loic Moisand. Orange rapidly corrected the problem and alerted clients to the correction. This information allowed them to realize an immediate savings on clients that did not call the support center and possible PR expenses.
Orange has estimated “a few million euros” in savings just through this installation of listening, and are expecting several more millions in ROI. According to Le Gac, the ROI they have seen has been “extremely quick”.
Added benefits – - monitoring competitors’ conversations :
In addition to the ROI realized by listening to third-party forums and positive image constructed through the encouragement of influential forum members, Orange has also been able to work with Synthesio to listen to conversations about competitors.
In one case, they were able to spot a problem in a direct competitor’s offer that was complained about by a number of forum visitors, and avoided making the same mistake, themselves.
They have also been able to spot offers from their competitors that their customers wanted in their own plans. Family calling, for example, is now part of the Orange Open calling plan. It gives customers unlimited calling capability for a certain number of their contacts.
Next Steps :
Orange is always seeking to go further in their response to customer needs and is planning on growing their team of web consultants, says Thomas Le Gac. He aims to turn the team of 7 web consultants into a powerhouse of 30 by the end of the year.
Orange is also planning on expanding their web listening and interaction via their involvement in more social networks and more countries. While a seemingly “must” for northern American companies, Twitter has been slowly growing their presence in France in terms of the number of users. Orange therefore plans to take advantage of this tool by opening their own B2C account, as well as using Facebook forums.
They realize the potential of these spaces to attract younger customers and to find them where they are.
There is also a number of international branches that are interested in Orange’s innovative steps in France, and they are currently working to use Synthesio’s monitoring services to expand their social media efforts to Switzerland, Spain, Romania, Poland, and the UK, to name a few.
Finally, Synthesio’s analysts identify sentiment surrounding the Orange brand and various offerings. Each comment in a thread is flagged as positive, negative, or neutral, and assigned to one of the topics Orange is monitoring in online forums.
“There are certain characteristics that we would like to see around our brand,” says Thomas Le Gac. “Transparency and honesty aren’t easy to measure, but they are clearly an objective for us. We are comparing Synthesio’s sentiment analysis from month to month to see where there are changes and why. This is a question we are going to keep looking at.”
A warm thank you to Thomas Le Gac, Project Manager 2.0 for Orange, and Loic Moisand, CEO & Co-Founder of Synthesio for their testimonies
This case study has been a submission for the Forrester Groundswell Awards 2010