It starts off with putting the humanity back into the business. This can be done through ‘social care.’ Social care brings customers closer to us. We can get into dialog with them and take an active part in that.”

Coen Olde Olthof, Chief Marketing Officer

Starting the conversation

KPN is known as a ‘quadruple play’ telecoms company with 9 million customers in terms of telephony (cell phones and landlines), internet, and television. This market has seen many changes in recent years. Technology is changing the way consumers handle communication. The consequences of this for a company such as KPN are many. The rapid rise of social media has resulted in the customer having a louder voice and greater visibility. Customer expectations change quickly, with demands for ever faster assistance through all available channels. KPN’s goal for 2016 is to be the best and most customer-focused service provider in the Netherlands. But how do you start that conversation, and how do you turn a large and traditional telecoms firm into the biggest (and best) service provider in the Netherlands?


One social care platform
Sebastiaan van Rijnsoever, Social Media Director: “At KPN, it’s the essentials that matter in the end. Customers just want things to go to plan, so service is the key factor. That’s why KPN decided a few years ago to go back to basics. Back to the customer. Refocusing on short lines of communication, along with familiarity and fast personal contact. In so doing strengthening our customers’ support and in part also winning it back.”

In its approach to social care, and with Salesforce’s help, KPN has taken the decision to develop a cloud-based platform, on the one hand to be able to listen to the customer (through ExactTarget Marketing Cloud and Radian6), and on the other to enable KPN to maintain relevant and good customer relations as well through the Salesforce ServiceCloud.

Real change begins internally
Coen Olde Olthof, Chief Marketing Officer: “Increasingly, big companies are losing the trust of and relationships with their customers; they’re becoming increasingly automated, but contact is becoming more impersonal. So, how do you win back lost ground? Is it a question of technology or organization, or is it actual contact that matters? It starts with bringing people back again and the human dimension in your company. ‘Social’ lets us do this. ‘Social’ brings customers back into the fold and lets us resume dialog.

A company that is able to use social media well also needs to be a social business itself. The company has taken a number of steps to achieve that goal: By means of social narrow casts (seeing in real time what customers are saying about us) it is like actually having our customers on the company premises. TeamKPN Online, a sort of internal Facebook, enables us to break through the silos within KPN and it has become much easier to reinforce internal cooperation based on expertise and personal enthusiasm.

Webcare and Forum
Olde Olthof: “We initiated Webcare as long as four years ago, when Twitter was still very small-scale. Webcare started off with three people, and now it’s a team of 80. The next stage to this is to get customers to help each other. We started up the KPN Service Forum two years ago. It’s a platform where customers can post questions and where other customers can post replies. It’s a terrific success. Currently, we have 30,000 active users plus a number of visitors for all KPN brands. A customer platform like this is an information goldmine so long as you’re open to it as a company and enter into dialog with your customer. The magic word is ‘transparency.’

Online forum
“We’re now also able to bring questions from the forum to TeamKPN. This places the customer instantly inside the company and everyone helps out with finding a solution. It’s no longer the responsibility of one department. Many more employees are involved with the customer as a result. On top of that, KPN has the Ambassador app,” adds Van Rijnsoever. “This app is for all KPN employees and makes it possible to field questions from friends and acquaintances straight to the helpdesk. Employees take pride in being able to help in this way, at the same time contributing toward the success and positive image of KPN as a service provider. With 18,000 employees, this makes it the biggest helpdesk in the Netherlands.

Salesforce is now the basic platform for the various Webcare teams. We’re using it to provide service through the social channels. And we’re also using it to trade knowledge, to benchmark, to generate information about our customers, and to improve our products and services. As far as those improvements are concerned, we’ve been making great use of Radian 6 together with the Social Command Center. We’ve put up screens throughout the whole building that let KPN employees see what’s being said about KPN in general in terms of social care and what (potential) customers are communicating about the themes specific to their departments. The Webcare teams are working with Radian 6 in combination with the Social Hub and the Service Cloud.

“Is our service truly better now for our customers? Gauging that by using Radian 6, throughout the whole process, we’re seeing a major shift in the tone of the conversations from negative to positive; so we’re succeeding at being more and more service-focused. We’re now using new ways of establishing contact with our customers, and we’re noticing from the results that we’re actually improving relationships with them. People are seeing us as friendlier, they’re receiving better help, and we’re in dialog again; it’s a strange thing, but digitization has given us back the human dimension,” concludes Coen Olde Olthof.


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