It was celebration time for social marketing agency Viral Effect when they topped the Twitter Customer Service Index, taking the crown from long-term holders, a certain Microsoft.
The Boho Four-based agency led by MD James ‘JP’ Pennington have consistently been number one in what is known as the Food Index for their work with the likes of coffee specialists Costa and pizza experts Domino’s but had always hovered in the top ten for overall customer service.
This time, however, the hard work paid off as Viral Effect sailed past global powerhouses NatWest, American Express and Santander, staying in first place for a full week and dipping in and out of the pole position ever since.
“It’s no mean feat,” smiles Jamie.
“Considering we are a small agency from ‘over the border’ in a small town, to beat the financial resources of a company like Microsoft shows just what determination, hard work and being powered by Middlesbrough can achieve!”
The positions on the Customer Service Index, which is curated by helphandles.com, are based on response time and response rate – how many people Viral Effect’s team of social warriors respond to and how quickly they do it.
“During Covid, we were very lucky that Domino’s – one of our major clients – stayed open to feed the nation,” says Jamie.
“But that meant we had to staff up heavily as we were getting a lot more inbounds on Domino’s social channels. You can imagine that with extra orders came extra complaints and inquiries.
“We were up to ten times as busy on a Friday night as pre-Covid, so we had to adapt very quickly. Whereas we might have two strong people on the social team on a Friday night, we had five on. Any staff member not on the social team was put on to the rota to do the local pages.
“Alisia Evci, our head of social team, had her work cut out, but she did a phenomenal job to get the team at such a high level consistently.”
Attention to detail from the social team is something that Viral Effect pride themselves on.
“We do a lot of typing tests to keep on the ball,” says Jamie.
“We won’t use copy and paste because that’s robotic and you can’t be robotic on a public-facing platform. Each message to each client has to be unique and personal in some way.
“So, while social warrior is an entry level job and perfect for students given that it’s a weekend and after-hours role, you still need to have understanding and patience.”
Despite the fantastic achievements of Viral Effect over the last few months, Jamie and co-owner Mike Racz have been in discussion since October last year about moving the company to the next level and hiring experienced management staff to bring in fresh ideas.
“The market is maturing at a faster pace than a lot of other industries,” says Jamie.
“There are brilliant people out there who work for other organisations who can bring different skill sets and ideas to the table, and that’s what we want.”
Currently, Viral Effect are “aggressively hiring” after already finding two new members of staff and promoting one from within the ranks.
“Kate Price is our new success manager,” says Jamie. “We’ve also recently taken on Jack Bower, who is a fantastic videographer, and we’ve promoted former account manager Amerdeep Mann to project manager to streamline the way the account management team deal with the digital team.
“We would like to find an operations manager and two new community warriors to finish the team.”