It Pays to Listen: Avaya’s $250K Twitter Sale

social media case studiesAvaya can hear you. Maybe you just praised the communications giant online – or took its name in vain. Whatever you said, it’s on the company’s radar.

At a time when businesses are using social media to promote content and start discussions, Avaya has found that listening trumps talking.

“We’re listening to social media and responding,” said Paul Dunay, Avaya’s social media ringleader, who is global managing director of services and social media marketing.

There is no Tweet that goes unturned. No forum post that goes unturned where our name is mentioned.”

What began as a way to engage and support customers has evolved beyond even Avaya’s expectations. And if Avaya ever doubted its investment in social media, those concerns are now put to rest.

A recent quarter-million–dollar sale, which began on Twitter, soundly answered that question.

Organization:

Social Media Tools Used:

  • Facebook – 42 groups + 5 new fan pages
  • Blogs – 1 Avaya external blog; 14 internal Avaya blogs
  • Wikis – 15 internal
  • Twitter – 10 global accounts
  • LinkedIn – 12 groups
  • Yammer – ~3000 employees
  • Socialcast – recently launched

Results:

  • 50 virtual team members volunteer to monitor 1,000–2,500 mentions of Avaya online every week.
  • A single Twitter post led to a $250K sale 13 days later.
  • Avaya proactively intercepts many support issues before the customer ever logs a formal support request.

Making the Case

Avaya started in 2000 as a spinoff of Lucent Technologies, but its legacy goes back more than a century to the original Bell system. From the earliest phone systems to advanced, unified communications, Avaya and its predecessors have been – and continue to be – at the forefront of the field.

It makes sense then that Avaya would be wherever people are communicating today. The company’s social media activity started informally and grew organically. First, it was mostly a matter of supporting – and keeping – existing customers, many of whom need replacements as old phone systems are retired.

At the time, Dunay followed Avaya mentions on Twitter, which were mostly questions that he forwarded to support reps.

“The old 1.0 way was a call center or inputting tickets on the web,” he said. “2.0 is we’ll try to reach out to Avaya support which is, by the way, me on Twitter.”

With the growth of social media, those mentions soon became too much for Dunay to simply watch on his own. He brought his case to Avaya’s CMO, and left with official backing to build a cross-functional, global, and virtual social media team.

“It was very easy for me to build my business case on retention of existing customers because it’s so expensive to get new ones,” he said

Take-Aways from Avaya

1. Be where your customers are.
“92% of B2B technology buyers consider themselves engaging in some form of social media,” Dunay says.

2. Engage early adopter employees.
Find and engage employees who are excited about and experienced in using social media.

3. Don’t automate responses.
Personalized interaction isn’t personal if it’s automated. Social media participants expect real people and real responses.

4. Listen more than you talk.
Listen first, and join the conversation second. Be on top of all relevant mentions, or find technology that can.

5. Don’t just track your company’s name.
Look for conversations on related topics and contribute if you can add value.

Customer Conversations ‘Everywhere’

Through word of mouth, Dunay found early social media adopters within Avaya’s 15,000 employees, starting with seven people across communications, marketing, support, legal and other business units. As the team began organizing Avaya’s social media strategy, they chose to focus on four main tools: Facebook, blogging, forums and Twitter.

From there, Avaya’s social media was “literally an explosion,” according to Dunay. That team of seven employees has now grown to 50 – all of whom volunteer to participate in social media on top of their regular jobs.

Today, the company has 42 Facebook groups, five Facebook fan pages, one external blog with 10 regular Avaya writers, 10 global Twitter accounts, and 12 LinkedIn groups. Internally, Avaya leverages social media just as much, with 14 internal blogs, 15 wikis, about 3,000 employees on Yammer and some on the recently launched Socialcast.

Facebook serves as the hub, with events, news, discussions and links to blog posts. The blogs discuss trends, innovations and cultural insights. Twitter allows them to post quick bits of information, respond to support requests, and monitor mentions of the brand and competition. Forums enable customers to get help from each other or from Avaya tech support.

With significant momentum, Dunay reported back to the CMO. “She asked, ‘Where are we talking to customers?’ I said, ‘Everywhere!’ She asked, ‘Where are we holding conversations with partners?’ I said, ‘Everywhere!’ We’re holding all the conversations in the same places with each one of those constituencies – and then some.”

Contests, videos and other resources engage Avaya’s Facebook fans.

The Eyes and Ears of Avaya

With active listening as the team’s main approach, members found they simply couldn’t be everywhere at all times – especially as mentions of the Avaya name grew to between 1,000 and 2,500 weekly. They turned to Radian6 technology to listen to and measure all social media mentions of not just the company’s name, but competitors’ names, product names, and types of conversations.

“We identified conversations we wanted to go deeply into,” Dunay said. “Wherever conversations about small business and communications happen, we need to be there.”

Avaya tracks a dashboard of mentions, and can choose to either ignore or respond to each. When one member “hears” something requiring further action, he or she posts it on an internal wiki and it’s assigned to someone on the relevant team to address it. That might be support, billing and finance, engineering, a partner, and so forth.

Dunay stresses that none of Avaya’s responses are automated. Who knows what a customer or prospect might say? If your response isn’t tailored to their comments, then you’ve missed the opportunity to connect on a personal level.

The 58-Character Sale

On average, Avaya interacts with a couple of dozen customers through social media on a weekly basis. By listening, the team also comes across sales opportunities. In June of this year, 58 characters of a simple Tweet started the relationship with a potential customer.

“shoretel or avaya? Time for a new phone system very soon,” the Tweet read.

“In less than maybe 15 minutes, we had seen it and figured out what the heck to say to this guy,” Dunay said. “I wrote back, ‘We have some highly trained techs who can help you understand your needs best and help you make an objective decision. Give me a call.'”

Dunay referred the gentleman to a business partner, and 13 days later, they closed a $250,000 sale. At the same time, the new customer’s follow-up Tweet went out: “…we have selected AVAYA as our new phone system. Excited by the technology and benefits…”

We were there. We were listening. It pays to listen,” Dunay said. “I can’t say we hit 100% of the conversations where we’ve wanted to be, although it’s probably 60–70%. But on our brand name, it is 117%. We’re on every one of those.”

Avaya proactively identifies and responds to support issues using Twitter.

One Tweet Away

By proactively looking for mentions and conversations, Avaya sees issues before they even arise, before anyone contacts the company. A response to a social media mention truly makes an impression on customers, prospects and partners. “We are the early response center for things happening in the marketplace,” Dunay said. “They love knowing you’re one Tweet away.”

Avaya’s social media team grew quickly, but Dunay has an even bigger vision for social media.

“I don’t think it should be 50. I think it should be 15,000. Everyone should have a hand in it,” Dunay said. “We definitely want more people deeper and broader in the organization.”

“Our goals are to have deeper, more interesting and more pervasive conversations with as many people as we possibly can,” he added. “Why wouldn’t you take every opportunity for your brand to build better and deeper relations with every customer you can?”

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

About the Author, Casey Hibbard

Casey Hibbard is Social Media Examiner's case study writer. She is also president of Compelling Cases Inc. and author of Stories That Sell: Turn Satisfied Customers into Your Most Powerful Sales & Marketing Asset. Other posts by »




More Info
  • http://over40innovator.blogspot.com Roger Toennis

    Hi Casey! Great article! I’m @Roger_Tee on Twitter and working with @PaulDunay at Avaya as consultant helping out on the Social Media Team. Paul is doing GREAT job bringing a traditional company like Avaya into the Age of Social Media.

    Cheers,
    ROger

  • http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com Michael A. Stelzner

    Roger! Great picture in your bio here :)

    We agree that Avaya is worth watching and so is Paul. I understand B2B Magazine just announced that Paul is one of the Top 25 Marketers of the Year.

  • http://NaomiTrower.com Naomi Trower

    Incredible case study! I really go after #5. Don’t just track your company’s name. Look for conversations on related topics and contribute if you can add value. I have listened to questions sent to other brands, answered the questions and sent the response to the person that asked the question. It’s a great brainstorming avenue for new blog post ideas as well as providing value. :)

  • Anonymous

    Very good example of how to get it right. Reminds me of an early slogan from the 70’s/80’s – “We are everywhere!” :-)

  • http://twitter.com/strictlystress Jill Prince

    Hi Casey. Your article is really great. I’m @strictlystress on Twitter
    Avaya handles business stress well! Running a business can be one of the most stressful experiences for the average person. There is no better way to manage business stress than to see a huge payoff from a concerted effort brought forth from a good systems model. Social media can be so overwhelming and a systems approach can save a lot of stress.

  • http://twitter.com/RMgunderson Rachel Gunderson

    Great case study! I really like Take-Away #2 – Engage early adopter employees. While a lot of social media tools have seen strong growth over the past few years there are still a lot of people who aren’t very involved, and I’ve heard the response many times from people who “just aren’t interested”. But those of us who are excited about it are REALLY excited about it. What a great idea to capitalize on your employees ‘outside of work’ interests.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks Roger! You’re one of the stars on the Avaya sm team. Very impressive work over there. Hope you are getting kudos internally there as well for all your work.

  • Anonymous

    Hi Jill,

    Appreciate your comments!

    That’s really true. It’s so great to see a payoff from what many companies still see as an uncertain path to revenue. What’s really impressive is that it’s a mostly volunteer group doing the work.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks Rachel!

    Exactly. And it seems like an edge for those employees who are involved in it, even on a volunteer basis. They network more throughout the organization and truly keep up with what’s going on – keeping them energized and learning more.

  • http://twitter.com/vargasl Lauren Vargas

    Now that is a powerful example of what social media can deliver! It goes way beyond the tools though, right? As you state in your post, listening was only the first step…the relationship forged was through human interaction. Brilliant take-aways. Thank you for sharing.

    Lauren Vargas
    Community Manager at Radian6
    @VargasL

  • http://www.heartspoken.com/ Elizabeth H. Cottrell

    Great article, Casey. On a MUCH smaller scale, I’ve gotten into some wonderful conversations by responding to things that come up from my Google alerts and SocialOomph keyword alerts for “handwritten letters,” “handwritten notes,” and “personal notes.” It has helped me identify and introduce myself to bloggers who are blogging about my keywords and has tripled the number of members in my Facebook Group: “Revive the art of personal note writing.” I’ve also gotten some great content for a book I’m working on.

    Maybe a future article in the Social Examiner could discuss “listening devices.” You mention Radian6, for instance. Are there any other than Google and Yahoo Alerts, Social Oomph, and Twitter search that small business owners should know about?

  • http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com Michael A. Stelzner

    Hey Riverwood,

    Great story about your niche. Good ideas on listening devices.

    Mike

  • http://iTriageHealth.com/ Alicia

    Wow, this is great advice. I am going to take this straight to our founders. We are conducting a social media campaign and this is just the ammunition to get more people in the office fired up about our efforts. Thanks.

  • Anonymous

    You have covered a great effort by Paul Dunay, an example by Avaya of as much significance as Dell’s sales via Twitter. I have covered some of Avaya’s social media participation in my blog, http://prasoonk.wordpress.com/2009/09/21/if-a-company-participates-in-social-media-it-should-be-ready-for-good-as-well-bad-comments/

  • http://wadja.com/l.chapman Laura Chapman

    I really think this is the way to go. “Look for conversations on related topics”. Actually this is what wadja.com does with a feature they call #Labels. Create an #Avaya label and track the discussion around the name. Twitter and YouTube included!
    PS: It’s perfectly logical to want to place your company where a great audience is.

  • http://www.trajectory4brands.com/ eric brody

    Great post Casey. Tremendous case study that certainly reveals the power of the channel – both quantitatively and qualitatively. Should be evidence enough for CEO’s and leadership teams that Twitter is a serious engagement tool that needs to be integrated into the marketing/communications mix across the organization.

    Eric Brody
    http://www.twitter.com/ericbrody

  • Anonymous

    Eric, thanks for your comments. Yes, it’s solid evidence that there’s a payoff. Then once companies decide to use it, the next question is, “how?” Hopefully this site is giving people real insight into how to listen, respond and share with tools like Twitter.

  • Anonymous

    Great case Casey. Avaya is a strange company. I remember that their customers circulated a list of sales people and their phone numbers because it was impossible to reach anybody in Avaya – not even customers could talk to them. But as so often – things need to get REALLY Bad to wake up. :-) Glad they are waking up. I’m glad because it is good for the entire economy when large companies redesign their customer experience model and become more successful.

    Axel
    http://xeesm.com/AxelS

  • http://www.socialwavelength.com/ Hareesh Tibrewala

    Great article Casey. Enjoyed reading it. I run a social media monitoring company and found this case study very insightful

  • http://twitter.com/vernongirl Courtenay Pitcher

    Hi, I’m wondering. Did the 58 character message go out as a reply or a direct message back to the customer when Denay said he “wrote” back. I have a very controversial post on my VernonGirl blog site today about Direct Messaging customers, so I’m wondering if it was a reply or a direct message. (I hope it was a direct message.)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=697829041 Anonymous

    Casey, great article. As a social media advocate inside of Avaya, I am enjoying being part of the business (and culture) transformation. It starts with the people (it’s social, duh) and it is now being reflected in our technology. Leveraging social media as an “interaction channel” within our customer service solutions is exciting.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=697829041 Anonymous

    Casey, great article. As a social media advocate inside of Avaya, I am enjoying being part of the business (and culture) transformation. It starts with the people (it’s social, duh) and it is now being reflected in our technology. Leveraging social media as an “interaction channel” within our customer service solutions is exciting.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=697829041 Anonymous

    Casey, great article. As a social media advocate inside of Avaya, I am enjoying being part of the business (and culture) transformation. It starts with the people (it’s social, duh) and it is now being reflected in our technology. Leveraging social media as an “interaction channel” within our customer service solutions is exciting.

  • http://quetwo.com/ Nick Kwiatkowski

    Avaya has been great on twitter. In simple comments, I’ve gotten access to great resources, help with documentation, and access to engineers that would have required sitting on the phone for days. The entire team behiend @Avaya and @Avaya_support (along with many of their sales teams that are on Twitter and Facebook) have been very extremely helpful, which makes existing customers feel better about their purchasing decision, which in turn gives great word-of-mouth to others in the industry.

  • http://quetwo.com/ Nick Kwiatkowski

    Avaya has been great on twitter. In simple comments, I’ve gotten access to great resources, help with documentation, and access to engineers that would have required sitting on the phone for days. The entire team behiend @Avaya and @Avaya_support (along with many of their sales teams that are on Twitter and Facebook) have been very extremely helpful, which makes existing customers feel better about their purchasing decision, which in turn gives great word-of-mouth to others in the industry.

  • http://www.nxtsm.com Victor Canada

    Casey, Great article and of course now a classic. This article is fundamental to Social Media at its best and a model for B2B. I use this case study with my students and clients and was glad to see it referenced in the NOW Revolution co-authored by Jay Baer and Amber Naslund. Thanks for your contribution.

  • Pingback: Twitter for B2B Marketing Case Studies: Four Ways How Tweets Lead to Business | GoldenVisionTraining.com()

  • Pingback: What Comes After Lead Generation? « Digital B2B Marketing()

  • Pingback: What Comes After Lead Generation? « Business Growth « business-growth-strategies.info()

  • Pingback: What Comes After Lead Generation? — B2B Digital()

  • Pingback: Twitter, twitter followers, twitter follow, followers twitter, followers on twitter, get more twitter followers, get twitter followers, purchase twitter followers, twitter get followers, twitter following, get followers, buy twitter follower, twitter for ()

  • Pingback: Three New Required Roles for your company (#1): CIA Operative – Value Creator (BrianVellmure.com)()

  • Pingback: It Pays To Listen « Jeremy Stahl's JRN 492 Blog()

  • Pingback: Avaya’s 250k Twitter Case Study « Social Media & Digital Marketing {for the YP}()

  • Pingback: It Pays to Listen: Avaya’s $250K Twitter Sale | M5 Networks()

  • http://www.sabio.co.uk/ Kate Peters

    With Avaya support, customers typically save from their previous maintenance plan. Also, they receive peace of mind, knowing that their system is covered, maintained, and expensive repairs are prevented. 

  • Pingback: B2B marketing is easy. Listen! - IntegratedB2B()

  • Pingback: B2B Marketing is Easy. Listen! | Email Marketing to Schools()

  • Pingback: How to Use Social Media Listening to Generate More Customers()









Pinterest
Join our Social Media Marketing Networking Club
Check out the Social Media Marketing Podcast!