Magazine article CRM Magazine

In One Channel and out the Other: Sonos Shoots for Perfect Pitch with Its Social Media and Self-Service Support Capabilities

Magazine article CRM Magazine

In One Channel and out the Other: Sonos Shoots for Perfect Pitch with Its Social Media and Self-Service Support Capabilities

Article excerpt

Headquartered in Santa Barbara, Calif., wireless music system provider Sonos allows audiophiles to blare digital tunes from one room to another. The company gives its customers music wherever and whenever they want it, and it tries to apply that same mind-set to customer service.

Recently big-box retailers such as Best Buy and Brookstone started carrying Sonos products in their stores. As a result, a less technical and more mainstream customer base has emerged. When Sonos launched in 2006, it appealed mostly to "gadget geeks," meaning early adopters with a good grasp of technology, explains Mike Carlino, senior director of customer service for Sonos. Not only were the company's support people able to talk the lingo but the support questions also were more sophisticated and technical. But customers buying from Best Buy presented a new challenge to Sonos.

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To accommodate customer growth, Sonos broadened its customer service mechanisms. "When I joined Sonos, customers communicated primarily through the phone. We didn't have a self-help option," Carlino says. "I realized that people were asking us a lot of simple, content-based questions that we could have made available to them, and saved them the phone call." So, Sonos began giving its customers more options for support. The Sonos Support landing page now offers FAQs, forums, online manuals, and links to email and live chat.

In 2007, 85 percent of support cases were handled by phone. Today, 40 percent of communications are phone-based, and the rest occur electronically: online chats, self-service FAQs, or Web inquiries, Carlino reports. Thanks to an active knowledge base built by on-demand social software provider Mzinga, Sonos gets 14 to 15 views of its knowledge base (FAQs) for every phone call. Users rate the site as effective--its metric of "helpfulness" rests around 98 percent.

"We monitor the knowledge base every day so we can determine what types of issues customers are not finding answers to," Carlino says. "Depending on searches and misses, we can situate where and what [content] is in our knowledge base."

In addition to its FAQs, Sonos runs a lively community forum for users, who are given latitude to express themselves. The Sonos staff does step in on occasion with fresh content, answers to common questions, and requests for feedback. …

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