• April 1, 2013
  • By Leonard Klie, Editor, CRM magazine and SmartCustomerService.com

Social Customer Service That Satisfies

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Online video broadcast platform provider Ustream has much to distinguish it, but perhaps its most unusual honor is the Guinness World Record it set in June 2011. The record, for "Most Content Ingested by an Online Video Service," followed a year in which Ustream logged 37.05 million hours of content. That averaged out to 70.5 hours per minute; at the time, YouTube averaged about 48 hours of content uploaded per minute.

Those numbers might not be so surprising if you consider that more than 15 million users, including NASA, the Library of Congress, Hollywood entertainers, politicians, athletes, corporate executives, and gamers, rely on Ustream's Web-based live interactive video broadcast platform to present content seen by more than 60 million unique visitors per month.

With that much traffic, San Francisco–based Ustream could surely expect to get support tickets, but it hadn't counted on the sheer volume it received.

"We were drowning in support tickets," says CEO Brad Hunstable, who cofounded the company six years ago.

Just over a year ago, Ustream turned to Get Satisfaction for help creating a social community and customer engagement platform. Get Satisfaction manages more than 70,000 social communities for companies of all sizes.

Ustream leverages Get Satisfaction for announcements, product management, and customer insights. The community also lets users share ideas, questions, and concerns with the Ustream staff and other community members.

Today the community serves more than 25,600 people, who have generated more than 12,000 posts. All content is stored in a knowledge base that lets users find answers on their own. "When someone has a question, he can pull up the articles where that was already asked and answered," Hunstable says.

If the community can't answer the question, there are other options. Most customers with free accounts are urged to file a support ticket on the Web, but paying customers often receive more personal attention—sometimes in the form of a phone call or face-to-face meeting. Even Hunstable has been known to log into the community and help customers.

Most customers get what they need through the community and don't need the direct contact. Since launching the Get Satisfaction social community, support tickets have dropped by 55 percent.

Previously, most customers in need of assistance reached out via email or Web form. "This required individuals to respond and…we couldn't get to them all," Hunstable recalls.

The company is not only responding to more customer questions, but is doing so without adding staff. "We're so much more efficient now," Hunstable says.

Ustream also benefits from the feedback, trend spotting, and other reporting capabilities built into the Get Satisfaction product. "Having full exposure across the whole company has been huge," Hunstable says.

Launching the social community was fairly trouble-free. "We were up and running in about a week," Hunstable recalls.

Ustream started with a gradual rollout that involved training everyone at the company to use the software and take part in the community. As employees got more comfortable with the community, they began promoting it more aggressively. They also started addressing customer issues more proactively, authoring articles and posting them to the knowledge base, often even before customers had the chance to notice a problem.

Ustream is now looking to expand its social communities, creating separate groups for broadcasters and viewers. It also wants to set up subgroups so similar types of users can share unique content and connect with similar organizations. Once completed, these subgroups will be able to help one another and build the market within those communities.

"It's been a fairly deliberate process on our end," Hunstable admits, but it's one that has paid off immensely.

"We've grown because of the support we provide for our broadcasters and viewers, and Get Satisfaction has been a big part of that," Hunstable concludes."Get Satisfaction fits nicely into the overall business strategy of the social world we live in."

The Payoff

The social community and customer engagement platform that Ustream started with Get Satisfaction has:

  • grown the company's user base to more than 25,600 people;
  • generated more than 12,000 posts; and
  • decreased the number of trouble tickets submitted by 55 percent.

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