Simply Business

Using social to help customers succeed

Smply Business

Simply Business is the UK’s largest online business insurance broker, currently insuring almost 200,000 SMEs and landlords.

They’ve become known for providing relevant advice; insights and tips for small businesses, published on their website’s knowledge centre and shared via social media and email.

Simply Business is very active in social media, having built a 20,000+ Twitter following (the largest in the insurance industry); supporting active communities on Facebook and LinkedIn; posting video playlists on YouTube; and experimenting in almost every other social channel.

Because they take social media seriously, give it proper resources and start from a sound strategy – and because they see their role as helping their customers succeed – Simply Business is one of our Social Heroes.

On Twitter:
Simply Busness Help on Twitter:
On Facebook:


Jasper Martens, head of communications and inbound marketing, on Strategy

Our two big themes for social media are online customer service and building relationships with existing customers.

For customer support, we need to be where our customers are – they expect us to be in social channels, responding to their issues.

On the relationship side, customers may buy a policy and never think of us again until renewal time a year later. We use social to keep the conversation going and to build relationships in-between.

On Social Customer Support

As an online insurance business, it would be weird for us to insist that people contact us by phone or post. So we set up a Facebook and Twitter support presence two years ago and manage them both from our contact centre.

If customers aren’t happy, they’ll let you know about it. If there’s a problem – if their claim has been rejected, for instance – they can get pretty angry. And it can snowball if you’re not careful.

You’ve got to respond quickly and do your best to solve the problem. We aim to respond within 30 minutes during UK business hours and we often beat that even out of hours. Any social mentions are automatically converted into tickets for the customer support teams who are trained in social.

If we get a really negative comment out there, we respond right away, publicly. If there’s a mistake, we apologize straight away. And then try to make it right. We’re a regulated industry so we try to deal with things openly but as soon as a case involves personal details, we have to take it offline.

On Helping

Insurance can be boring. So we made the decision early on that we’d focus our content effort on helping small businesses succeed and grow.

We create interesting, relevant content that’s all about the challenges of running a small business – and people really respond to that. We don’t just say we want to help – we show that we want to help. And over time, we’ve become known as a champion of small business and start-ups.

Our social engagements and content are absolutely not about pushing products. If you end a useful article with a ‘compare quotes’ button you lose all credibility.

On Community

If we ask a question on Twitter or Facebook, we get lots of responses. So during the Olympics, we asked if people had more customers in their shops and we got a great response.

That fuels the community and also gives us great content to bring back to people.

One revelation has been how willing people are to share positive things in social channels. As we open up and engage out there, we’re increasingly finding that people will post really positive stories and comments. It’s not all complaint handling.

On Consistency

We built our Twitter following by consistently tweeting with interesting content. There’s no short cut. We proactively look for key influencers and build relationships with them and retweet their stuff. They often retweet our posts, too, so we’re slowly getting known by their followers.

We’ve worked with the same content editor for four years and the team is all on the same page so we can deliver really sticky content, consistently. And we can see by our shares (or open and click rates in email newsletters) that people are responding.

On Listening

We use social channels and, on-site, we use Feefo to capture the voice of the customer. It does generate real eye-openers for us.

For instance, we found out that the way we were auto-renewing policies was making some people angry, so now we notify people by letter as well as email. We wouldn’t have known that without keeping our ears open.

On Different Channels

Beyond Twitter and Facebook, the big two for us, we also use LinkedIn and YouTube and we’re experimenting with Google+ and Pinterest.

Some offer really interesting things but if your customers aren’t there yet, it’s no use.

Our LinkedIn group has about 750 members. It’s not huge but three quarters of them are customers. Mostly professionals – whereas Facebook might be more tradesmen.

The idea is to change the content and the attitude depending on the channel. We’re very on-topic on Twitter and LinkedIn but let ourselves go off-topic a bit more on Facebook and loosen up the tone a little.

On Resources

We’ve got a team of 6 people on the content & social team. That’s a pretty big team for a company of 150 people and it shows that we really value this.

We have weekly content meetings with the team and often with our writers and PR and SEO agencies.

The team monitors 24 different forums, listening for issues we can pick up on or issues about insurance or our brand.

Building relationships is a manual, personal task, not something you can easily automate. We do use Tweet Spinner to help us identify people to follow but then one of us has to check them out and reach out to them personally.

#Social Success Lessons

  • Integrate social into your customer support processes
  • Make sure support staff are trained in social
  • Relevant content is the currency of social: invest in it
  • Develop a strategy and stick to it: consistency pays
  • If social is working for you, invest in a dedicated team
  • Respond quickly and openly to any issues
  • Find the influencers in your market and reach out to them

Read about more of our Social Heroes.

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