It may have started as damage limitation, but Panasonic’s move into social media has become a profitable as well as powerful way to talk to customers
When an incorrect story about a TV recall went viral, Panasonic knew it had to embrace social media.
“We hadn’t recalled any TVs but with people posting that we had 24/7, the story went right across Europe,” Panasonic’s head of service in north west Europe, Simon Parkinson, told the summit.
Parkinson and his colleagues traced the story back to some inaccurate advice from a retailer, which someone had posted on consumer electronics discussion site AVForums.
“We’d always been quite good on post, phone and email but done nothing with social media,” Parkinson said. “But there was clearly lots of communication going on about our products and if we didn’t put the information out ourselves people were going to make it up.”
Panasonic embraced Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and discussion sites such as AVForums and What HiFi. The organisation did this by developing a single access point across Europe that brought together traditional post, phone and email alongside Twitter, Facebook and so on. “We want to present a single face to the customer and have a single view of the customer,” Parkinson said.
He has also put together an engagement team of about 10 people based in Bracknell, Berkshire, who use a variety of tools to understand what’s being said about Panasonic across the internet.
The move to social media has proved hugely efficient. “Where most of our customer contact was one-to-one, now it’s one to many,” Parkinson said.
This has had a massive impact on the cost of servicing customers. Call volume is down by 610 per cent and Panasonic has been able to cut customer service staff by 25 per cent. And where post, email and phone contact costs around £3-5 per contact, social media costs only 25p. “Our efficiencies have gone through the roof,” Parkinson added.
However, he warned, once into social media, organisations can’t expect back out in a hurry. Someone can throw in a question into Twitter, for example, that doesn’t seem particularly important but firms ignore it at their peril.
“There are occasions when you want to take issues offline, in which case you can suggest to a commentator that they contact you directly. There are also times when the comments on a social media site are just nasty and you need to stay away.”