Adam Buchanan on turning around Cabela’s social customer service

At our Member Meeting in Chicago, Cabela's Social Media Manager, Adam Buchanan, shared a case study on helping the brand improve their social customer service and earn the love of their social media fans. He's been a member of since 2013.

Cabela's relationship with their customers in social media had a rough start.

According to Social Media Manager Adam Buchanan, the average response time took 72 hours, and they could only respond to about one-third of incoming posts.

Adam says one of the biggest reasons their social customer service lagged behind was a complicated workflow. When the social media manager would see a post that needed a response, they would take a screenshot of the post and email it to the customer care team at Cabela's.

“Where things got really messy was when our customer care team would go into our database and try to find this Facebook fan in our social customer database — which we all know is impossible unless you have a lot of advanced tools,” he says.

“Most of the time, they would not find them. And even if they did find them in the database, they still weren't really sure it was even the same person on Facebook.”

But Adam explains that poor social customer service wasn't the only thing wrong with the program.

They were also missing big opportunities to build relationships.

He says, “Our customers love to hunt and fish, and they love to share their experiences with us. If they're sharing really cool photos with us and we're not responding, we might as well turn off our Facebook page, because that's the opposite of social.”

“To fall back in love with our customers, we needed three things: people, process, and passion,” he says.

Adam helped Cabela's grow their team from one person to three, created a workflow that made sense, and encouraged the team to be passionate about their “inherently social” business in outdoor pursuits.

With a direct line of communication with two reps in customer relations and two reps in corporate communications, they created an efficient process for everyday complaints as well as worst-case scenarios.

But he says they didn't stop there.

Adam also recruited 20 “outfitters,” Cabela's retail employees, to help respond to posts and to keep their social presence authentic and informed on complicated topics.

“There are people in your organization who want to work with you. Everyone has a huge appetite for social,” Adam explains.

He says that with the help of their retail employees, they were able to start candid conversations with their fans.

For example, when one customer tweeted that they were catching a lot of fish with Cabela's Spiderman-themed fishing pole, their social media manager suggested he try their Dora the Explorer pole as well. And Cabela's fans loved it.

“Breaking out of the box, getting that passion, and bringing it to the surface has been a huge key to our success,” he says.

With the new team and workflow, Cabela's now responds to 90 percent of incoming posts and does so in fewer than five hours.

They've also increased their followers by two to four times as many on each channel.

“Now we get to do the cool stuff, because we cleaned house and took care of our customers,” Adam explains. “As you do the hard work that may not be super cool or super fun, you're building a relationship with your customers so you can do stuff like contests and ask for user generated content.”

Say hi to Adam on Twitter or check out his full presentation at our Member Meeting in Chicago here.