Social CRM Case Study: Sony Europe Creates a Community of Super-fans

It’s often said that the very best companies on social media do very little. Instead, they let their online communities do it for them. That’s the approach that...

It’s often said that the very best companies on social media do very little. Instead, they let their online communities do it for them. That’s the approach that Sony Europe has taken.

Sony super user conference

Providing effective social customer service is a challenge for any business, but when you’re one of the world’s largest electronics companies the challenge is somewhat different. Explaining and resolving technical problems in 140 characters is simply not realistic and when you consider that Sony produces thousands of different products the problem is compounded.

The natural solution is a forum. Sony believed that by creating an online community they would be able to answer many queries and reduce support costs, but the company really struggled to get their staff involved in the community. Instead, it became apparent that the best support was being offered by other Sony users.

This became the focus of their strategy and to better encourage and enable community members they started to identify and reward their most valuable ‘super fans’.

Nico Henderijckx, Forum and Communities Manager at Sony Europe will be speaking at Social CRM 2013 in London on July 9th. Book your ticket here.

They hosted monthly training, organised online catch-ups, invited their super fans to product launches and offered them new products. More extravagantly, they also hold bi-annual super user conferences. During these conferences, super users are flown to a European city for a luxury, all-expenses-paid trip where they have 2 days of training, partake in unique team-building experiences, and meet Sony’s developers and some of the company’s senior figures.

Nico Henderijckx, Sony Europe, presenting at Social Media Week London

Sony stresses the importance of not directly paying their super users, as that would fundamentally alter the relationship. The most important thing is to make the users feel valued and ignite their passion for the brand. That’s why they dedicate 40% of their forum budget to the bi-annual conferences.

So, what are the results?

Sony Europe has around 50 super-fans who each answer many thousands of customer queries every year, saving the company several £ million in support costs. The peer-to-peer forum has an 85% solve rate and most complex problems are solved faster than on the phone. It’s an incredibly valuable resource for both the company and its customers.

Early bird tickets for Social CRM 2013 (London) on July 8-9, featuring speakers from Sony, eBay, BskyB and EE, are available online now from just £145.

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1 comment

  1. uncon vince Reply

    I am mightily unimpressed by the Sony super fan idea. the community site is quiet for a national forum with such a range of items. I took a customer service query to them they were nice but ill informed and passed me over to Sony quickly.

    Sony remained their useless selves. they need to invest in customer service and train their staff properly, they are a brand in a tail spin scrimping on service and charging premium prices is one reason they are failing.

    Ohh we have empowered our customers to do our jobs for us ! Look at me monetising ! Would be more convincing if their reputation for customer service was not so poor.