How Staples Shaped Its Business through Employee Engagement and Social Insights

How a focus on customer experience improves brand recognition at Staples

Every day, I talk to companies (or IT leaders) about how to improve customer experience and strengthen a reputation—and too often, I see a disconnect between collecting data and taking action. It doesn’t have to be this way. Building a powerful social media listening and monitoring strategy can be one of the most effective and efficient channels for understanding how your customers interact with your brand.

No longer just a side project, a company’s social media presence is the cornerstone of customer engagement. That’s why your content must be carefully crafted, your social media sites must be monitored, and your conversations must be thoughtful and timely. Social media monitoring—or listening—not only helps you identify conversations, but also help you understand them and gain knowledge that ultimately boosts the bottom line. It helps you find ways to cultivate great content, learn what your competitors are doing, provide better customer service, gain feedback on products or service and much more.

So how can you move from collecting data to taking the right actions? Social monitoring is the starting point, but what are your next steps to effectively leverage data and feedback to build a better brand?

Staples: a success story

I’d like to share one great example of effective social media listening. Office retailer Staples used social media monitoring to address a mountain of irrelevant data associated with its social media streams. Out of the 150,000 posts collected each month, nearly 80 percent of the social media data was deemed noise. “(Staples) is also the name of a city, a sports center, things in your pantry, something used in surgery and a surname,” explained Jonathan Preston, manager of social media at Staples.

Staples had been relying on a social media tool to gather those 150,000 mentions monthly. Staff then spent days manually downloading and formatting all of the feedback to weed out the relevant information.

According to Preston, “We needed a new way of uncovering more detailed and statistically significant samples to deliver actionable insights for partners tasked with driving the business.”

After looking at other third-party tools, product suites, and services, Staples opted to use a managed service rather than implementing a new in-house system. With help from the social media consulting experts at Dell Digital Business Services, they deployed a cloud-based social media listening and analysis service. They also trained staff in effectively using social media insight. Dell consultants worked closely with Staples to understand what kind of insight different groups needed.

Preston says, “Not only did we hit our five-week implementation plan, but also our Dell consultants became an extension of our team.”

The results were impressive. After implementation, social media noise was reduced by 75 percent and staff efficiency was greatly improved.

The Staples experience is a perfect example of how social media can garner all sorts of data, but when much of it is irrelevant to running your business, you can take steps to cut down the noise and find insights that have a real influence on marketing, product development and customer experience.

Taking the next steps

Try to remember that when you adopt a managed services approach, you’re not outsourcing your social media voice or brand. Rather, you are outsourcing your process. Choose the right partner, and chances are you’ll reduce the noise and improve outcomes, just like Staples. You can read all about it in this case study.

Social media monitoring is one channel in your overall customer experience plan. To learn more, I invite you to read the white paper Enhancing the Customer Experience Under a Unified OmniChannel Strategy. At Dell Digital Business Services, we can help you make the most out of your customer experience—through IT expertise and solutions to ensure business agility and growth by helping you modernize and transform your organization. We’re here to listen. 

About the Author: Eric Clark