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Cisco Support Community: Winner of the 2011 Forrester Groundswell Award for Supporting Social Media

February 9, 2012 - 0 Comments

Many companies today are jumping on the bandwagon to add custom social media accounts to their list of web properties. The Cisco Support Community team is one such group, but this team has done so particularly well and seen great successes with their endeavors.

In early 2010, they launched and revamped their social initiatives in hopes of staying connected with customers and extending the community beyond Cisco’s immediate reach. Just over a year afterward, the team was recognized as the winner of the 2011 Forrester Groundswell Award in the B2B Supporting Category. What’s more, Cisco estimates that the community-based support on Facebook and Twitter is saving the company more than $400K annually! Not everybody rises to fame with the fruits of their social media labor. I was curious to find out what the team did that led to such positive results, so I chatted with Pratibha Gupta and Mohan Rao, leads of the social media branch of the Support Community team.

 What is the Cisco Support Community?

To provide a little bit of background, the Cisco Support Community (CSC) has been focused on offering community-based, peer-to-peer support for the enterprise, medium-sized and small business customers across all product areas. In the last few years, many of Cisco’s business and individual customers—particularly those in the younger age demographics and in emerging economies—were spending more and more time on social media sites. Despite the community’s rapid growth, the team foresaw an opportunity to utilize social media to provide ample support where fans were already present and engage with them further rather than just encouraging people to visit their Cisco community website. This led to the birth of the Support Community’s four main technical support channels on leading social media—Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and LinkedIn.

Integrated Social Media Presence Boosts Customer Service and Loyalty

The team perceived the diverse benefits of these four social media sites, and by leveraging them in their own unique way, they were able to retrieve the essential benefits from each one. All four of the team’s social properties are outstanding in their own right, but I’ll use Facebook as one example of how the team manages to integrate creativity and diversity to meet the customers’ needs as well as improve customer satisfaction.

Announcing upcoming events and providing relevant information about Cisco products and services has established the Support Community Facebook page, which currently has over 230K fans, as a “central information center” for customers. However, the team is also constantly experimenting and using a number of innovative measures to avoid falling into the trap of using this tool solely as a one-way broadcasting channel. For one, the page features an abundance of contests to create friendly competition among the fans and polls to gain customer feedback. Members of the Cisco team make sure that all inquiries are sufficiently responded to in a timely manner. In addition, fans have access to Cisco intellectual capital by way of the monthly Cisco Support Community Facebook Forums, a venue where they can have direct dialogs and Q&A sessions with Cisco subject matter experts (here’s an example of an actual Facebook Forum). These sessions allow people to actively participate in discussions with each other as well as with Cisco experts while getting the answers that they need.  

They are continuing to innovate and recently launched a Facebook app that enables users to participate in discussions happening on the Cisco Support Community directly from Facebook. With over 20K installs and 10K monthly active users, the app lowers the barrier to participate, engage with the support community and tap into their social network to find quicker resolutions.

Low Investments and High Returns on the Team’s Social Initiatives

In terms of measurable results, their social efforts have had phenomenal customer and business impact. In a recently conducted survey, a vast majority of the users expressed increased customer satisfaction after using the Facebook Support Community. This is quite telling of how the team keeps communications with customers going back and forth and takes action in whatever way possible to address their issues. Furthermore, the team has seen significant cost reductions based on case deflections and has reported that their phenomenal financial returns from social media have already far exceeded the low investments made to date.

If you’d like to get a glimpse for yourself of the high-quality engagements that the Support Community has with their audience, I invite you to do so by visiting their Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or YouTube page.

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