Tweeting Commuters: How Transport for London Manages Social Customer Service

Steven Gutierrez is the Lead Social Media and Content Editor at Transport For London. He looks after the social media and coordinates the teams which provide news, customer service and disruption updates for London’s commuters and tourists across a range of social media platforms.

On 13th of April Steven will join us for Social Customer Service Summit to share his insights on how TfL meets the social customer service demands of London’s commuters. We caught up with him for a quick preview of his session:

Social Customer Service Summit Transport for London

1. TfL must receive a lot of social customer service enquiries. Can you give us an idea of the scale of the challenge you face each month, week or day?

Steven: A day in TfL is packed with queries from customers about travel options, fares and complaints. During planned closures or service disruption the amount of queries increases on top of the norm. On social media we get around 130,000 interactions a month mainly on Twitter and Facebook.

2. One of the most obvious challenges for transport providers is the volume of queries at peak times, or when things go wrong. Do you have special processes or additional resources to help you cope at such times?

Steven: Our service on Twitter is constant. Day and night various teams monitor social media and support customers with queries. While many of us head home at 6pm most teams have shifts that continue up until 10pm, so they can help customers during rush hour. The overnight shifts finish very early in the morning and again the time of the crossover is designed so staff are available for commuters.

3. The focus of SCSS16 this year is ‘Integrating Social Media into your Omni-channel Service Strategy’. Is TfL addressing the question of integration? If so, on what ways?

Steven: Most feedback is filtered back to the business in terms of themes, so we don’t tend to have ‘social media feedback’, instead it’s something like ‘fares feedback’ or ‘bus driver feedback’. A lot of social media feedback is analysed holistically, so in that sense it’s all multi-channel. The customer issue is the most important thing, not how the customer chose to communicate it. Social media can be an excellent way of learning what customers are feeling so monitoring what people are saying is really important, so that’s what we focus on.

We’re doing OK with analysing text, but need more help with the huge amount of visual feedback – images and videos – customers share daily. It would be great if we could direct visual feedback straight to the relevant team.

4. What’s the most interesting new development or innovation you’re seeing in social customer service that could improve the customer experience?

Steven: I think it’s really important that the industry develops tools to help organisations understand huge volumes of images and videos. The prominence of platforms like Instagram and photos on Facebook and Twitter means visual analysis is going to be very important.

We’re doing OK with analysing text, but need more help with the huge amount of visual feedback – images and videos – customers share daily. It would be great if we could direct visual feedback straight to the relevant team. At the moment we have to watch the whole video or look at the photos and then send it through to the right department. The quicker we can do this task the quicker we can help customers.

 

To join Steven at SCSS16, along with participants from Vodafone, O2, IBM, Estee Lauder, TSB, Citibank, HP and Microsoft book your place at the Summit.