How Openreach Launched their Social Customer Care Operation

Openreach were new to social customer service, having only started responding to customer enquiries and issues on Twitter in March 2017. However, over the course of 9 months, they grew from having a very limited ability to respond on social media to handling hundreds of conversations a day with a dedicated team of up to 14 social care agents.

By recognizing that effortless customer engagements have become a basic consumer expectation, Openreach decided to change their approach and incorporate social into their customer service offering. In partnership with Conversocial, Openreach took a measured approach to social customer care, allowing them to scale at a pace which t their operation. Modern Britain runs on its internet infrastructure, and being able to identify key actionable content remained a key focus of Openreach across social channels


Challenge: Social as a Service Channel

Working Within a Regulated Industry:  Openreach is a highly regulated business with a unique set-up, and public nature of social also means there is also very little wiggle room for mistake. They act as a wholesaler and work on behalf of more than 590 communications providers (businesses like Sky, TalkTalk, Vodafone and BT). Typically, those coming to the Twitter channel are ‘end customers’ who’re the customers of the communications providers they work with.

Building a Team for Social Care: Social was a new communication tool for Openreach’s contact centre, a channel that they had previously no experience in. Therefore, understandably, there was a certain amount of trepidation of opening the social floodgates without a team built for purpose.

Answering Actionable Social Conversations: Openreach were receiving customer queries over social that they were not responding to. Creating internal workflows to effectively handle these conversations at scale, as well as coming up with creative ways to add a human touch, was critical to meeting their mission of better customer service on social.

Platform Features Used


About Openreach

Openreach is Britain’s digital network business. The people who connect homes, mobile phone masts, schools, shops, banks, hospitals, libraries, broadcasters, governments and businesses – large and small – to the world. Their mission is to build the best possible network with the highest quality of service, and make sure that everyone in Britain can be connected.

Openreach has around 30,000 people working on behalf of more than 590 communication providers. That’s businesses like Sky, TalkTalk, Vodafone and BT. With more than 27 million homes and business premises covered, their fibre network is the biggest in the UK.

London, UK
“The Conversocial partnership was critical in helping us starting our journey, and laying the foundations for future success. Throughout every step we have been supported and encouraged to do more. We’re not at the end of our social journey by any means, but we feel with Conversocial’s continued support we have taken the first important step in modernising our service offering.”

General Manager for Customer Resolutions & Service Delivery



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There was also the personal challenge of keeping the team motivated (customer service agents are at the forefront of customer complaints after all). Openreach and Conversocial looked at ways to motivate agents through performance rewards and highlighting success through a ‘Social Media Wall of Fame’.


Creating a Social Care Playbook: A social customer service playbook details processes for how different departments should transfer knowledge seamlessly to one another, and how social conversations should be engaged with by customer service agents. As Openreach were starting their social care journey there was very little documented. Conversocial’s Professional Services team helped Openreach create an internal Playbook; determining internal process, creating an online tone-of-voice, running scenario training and putting in place a crisis management plan to name but a few initiatives. The playbook provided consistency across the Openreach team and created processes that could be measured, refined and scaled.

Responding, Even Under Pressure: It’s rare to come across a customer service team that is perfectly suited for the demands of social media. In Openreach’s case it was even more unique, with some social agents having moved from engineering with little to no social media experience, both professionally and personally. On social, agents become brand ambassadors and therefore need to possess all the skills that come with a public-facing role, on top of the abilities needed to be a great agent over traditional channels like phone and email. Conversocial’s Professional Services team, in partnership with Openreach, had to be inventive in thinking up ways for the agents to be creative, even though the content nature of questions means that some tweets need the customer to speak directly to the ISP (Internet Service Provider).

Prioritisation of Actionable Content: The nature of the industry means that volume spikes are a common occurrence. But, sticking to the channels core objectives means that during busier times it’s even more important to step up and prevent a negative customer experience turning into something much bigger. This is achieved by being able to quickly switch agents over to social and having a system in place that can automatically distribute conversations to the right team members. Businesses must be able to manage these spikes in volume and still meet their SLAs. Openreach needed a platform partner that had a clear prioritisation engine and internal assignment settings that allow for spikes to be handled with optimised teamwork.


Lessons Learn5 Steps to a Social Customer Care Playbook

1. Objective setting: Conversocial worked closely with Openreach to understand what their aims and objectives were ahead of starting their social journey, identifying the ‘needs’ from the ‘nice to haves’. These themes would subsequently run throughout the Playbook, dictating how Openreach should react on social channels in order to meet these objectives.

2. Learning the operation: Conversocial’s Professional Services team spent time on-site with Openreach, talking with agents and team leader personnel alike, in order to fully understand the nuances of the operation, the current ways of working and any upcoming changes. Creating a Playbook for a social operation in its infancy meant usual information was not as readily available, with the Professional Services team countering this by matching Openreach’s contact drivers from conventional channels and adding a social care twist.

3. Engagement is key: The process of formulating a social customer care Playbook should not constitute one meeting and then a write-up. Instead, both parties should be engaged and communicative throughout. Regular check-ins between Conversocial’s Professional Services team and those at Openreach meant that any important changes in focus or requirements were highlighted as soon as possible.

4. Focus on the whole: As a unique contact channel, there is a tendency for businesses to focus on social as a silo. Instead, your social operation is only at its very best when interlinked with other contact channels and areas of the business. As social experts, the Conversocial aim is to turn your fledgling operation into a Social one where decision makers in your business stand-up and take note. Working with Openreach, Conversocial’s Professional Services team focused on the business as a whole, looking for contact types which could be resolved through social channels, or deliver a substantial ROI.

5. Keep it interesting!: The crux of a social customer care Playbook; A Playbook contains an awful lot of information about a business, their internal processes and contact types. But the document is useless without the buy-in of your agents. Keeping it an interesting, visual, iterative working document was the main aim of Conversocial’s Professional Services team, whilst maintaining a fresh, personable tone of voice remained an important focus of Openreach, especially where the vast majority of contact relates to issue outside of their direct control. The result was an engaging and thorough reference document which is easy to navigate and used regularly by both new and experienced agents alike.

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