By Tamsin Oxford - July 26th, 2015

Commencal is putting a spin on social customer service with European flair

Spotify and Whole Foods are two organizations with exceptional social customer service strategies in play, and as we shift across the pond to Commencal, we uncover a business that’s spread across France, the UK, and now the USA thanks to rich customer engagement and service.

The popular cycling company has grown from a one man band on a bike, driven by the passion of Max Commencal, to a hugely successful brand with an array of products and services that are available across the globe. Communicating directly with their customers the reason their business does good business says Max Commencal, CEO of Commencal.

Be Direct, Go Direct

“We believe that the direct relationship with our customers is essential. We sell more directly through our website, and we have removed the intermediary. As a result, the consumer comes to us more frequently than before. That is also one of the goals of our online sales and social networks. Through these, we can interact naturally with our consumers.”

The direct approach isn’t easy, so Commencal first ensured that their customers were met with the right tone and approach at the front lines, and then expanded this onto their social media.

“Our first stop was to implement this on our sales site, where we exchange information conventionally through email, but then we set up a chat facility on the website as well. Customers can ask questions and get direct answers while they are browsing.”

The second step saw the business develop a team that is dedicated to the management of the Commencal social networks. The team was structured to not only manage posts and updates, but to interact with consumers on a one to one basis. The organization has also used the team’s capabilities in communication to engage on online forums to strengthen their service offering and align their communications to sit closer to their customers.

“When we decided to sell primarily online, we had to rethink the relationships we had with our customers – not just before they buy, but during and after the sale. It meant we had to ensure our service was efficient and attentive.”

Getting to Grips with the Fundamentals

“The pillars of social customer service have to be: listening, being able to provide quick responses and being able to deliver personal attention to the customer, whether on our website or across our social networks.”

What’s interesting is that all the case studies, including Spotify and Whole Foods, have highlighted these points as being crucial to a successful customer service solution online. Speed, engagement and listening to the customer’s requirements and issues are vital and, as Max Commencal points out, if you sell directly to the customer, then you have to have social customer service.

“Social customer service is everyone’s business in this company, and it is a very positive thing. Every position in the company – sales, communications, and after-sales service – has to manage the consumer and use the tools at their disposal. We use forums, live web chats and chat services, the Actinic platform and the tools available on the various social networks. These make it so much easier to maintain a direct relationship with customers and retailers.”

The brand has found that their shift in focus has had significant results, allowing them to really drive their business to the next level.

“The customer feels listened to, and we can now give them faster responses by pooling our forces within the company. However, this has required good co-ordination in order to ensure that we give the customer the ‘personal touch’. It has been a challenge to stay so responsive and organized.”

Finding a Strategy, Measuring Results

“We are a medium-sized company so it is easier to consult and discuss things without necessarily implementing cumbersome procedures. So we haven’t created a social customer service playbook or specific rules, however we have focused on crafting a strong measurement practice.”

Commencal measures responses every day empirically in trade and consumer interaction.

“One way to measure this is to see the impact of this change on the different social posts. Positive interactions are always welcomed, but the numbers of dissatisfied customers can also be measured by reporting the number of sales to calculate the efficiency of our services.”

Commencal has adopted a rich approach to its social customer service, ensuring that clients get one on one attention. Their direct engagement strategy feeds into their overarching consumer engagement ethos and is carried through on their website, emails, live chats and platforms.

“Having a specific solution allows us to save time, such as the Actinic (part of Oxatis) chat solution. This gives us the capability to directly reach our customers during their visits to the sites, and it possibly avoids repeat and extensive email exchanges at the same time. This means that we can now guide the customer far more efficiently.”

Responsive, organized, direct and driven, Commencal has harnessed the tools built into specific social solutions, as well as the social sites themselves, to ensure that their customers receive quality, personalized support. It’s certainly a strategy that’s worked as the organization continues to grow, and boasts a sales presence across all platforms. Fancy buying a bike off Facebook? No problem. And they’ll help you choose the right one too…

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