The challenge

Social media plays a major role in customer service

Social media is full of valuable information about customer experiences that can help governments tailor services to the needs of citizens and add value to the way they deliver services.

But with so many social media channels it becomes difficult and time consuming for organisations to monitor customer feedback. Social media managers can often encounter significant volumes of social media chatter which they have to sift through as part of their rapidly-growing remit.

Working with the Department of Human Services, we developed a platform that would allow its communications team to answer queries, combat potentially misleading rumours, and track trends in key human services topics – all without significant manual labour, privacy risk, or upheaval of surrounding processes.

Our response

Introducing Vizie

Vizie is a web based software system that tracks, integrates and visualises customer feedback across a range of social media channels in real time.

[Music plays and text appears: Connecting with Customers on Social Media]

[Image changes to show Amanda Dennett, Senior Media Adviser, Department of Human Services]

Amanda Dennett: Vizie is a social media monitoring tool that helps our team track when people are talking about the Department and its key words in social media.

[Image changes to show people using telecommunications/internet devices on the go, people working together at computers in an office setting, close-up of typing at a keyboard]

It prioritises information that we need to see so that we can respond quickly to alert business areas that need to know what’s happening in their area, to alert our executive and Minister’s office about issues as they come up. That’s something that five years ago a lot of people in our Department wouldn’t have thought was possible.

[Image changes to show Tamati Shepherd, General Manager, Digital Transformation Division, Department of Human Services]

Tamati Shepherd: Social media is a really key part of our transformation journey and the social media project under the alliance was a really important aspect.

[Image changes to show people working cooperatively in office settings, including Amanda Dennett talking with various staff]

Amanda Dennett: We’re a big Department that delivers services on behalf of the Government to almost all Australians so we want to make sure that people can trust what we do, the information that we give and the services that we deliver, but also we want to know when individual customers are having a problem.

[Image changes to show Dr Cecile Paris, Research Leader, CSIRO]

Dr Cecile Paris: We spend a lot of time observing the address to understand what they were doing on social media and how they were doing it, to get an understanding of how we could develop a tool to help them in their task and to be integrated in their workflow.

[Image changes to show a female seated at a desk and working on a computer and then moves back to Amanda Dennett]

Amanda Dennett: In the early days of our social media monitoring it was a bit of an onerous task to trawl through Google alerts, Twitter feeds and Twitter searches, trying to find where people are talking about Centrelink and Medicare, and now using Vizie we’re able to save a lot of time because those processes are automated.

[Image changes to show a four-way split-screen montage of people using telecommunications devices on the go]

[Image changes back to Dr Cecile Paris]

Dr Cecile Paris: Not just an idea of whether it’s positive or negative and who are the main people talking but really trying to understand more deeply what are people talking about and in which way they are talking about it.

[Image changes to show a woman using an iPad]

For example to be able to automatically identify what is a question, what is an opinion, what is an opinion which may or may not be true, so those are quite complex questions.

[Image has changed back to Amanda Dennett]

Amanda Dennett: Our work with CSIRO has been really exciting. It’s been really collaborative.

[Image changes to show Vizie search results on screen, graphs and pie charts]

My team thinks about it in a communication and customer service way, they’re coming at it from a research and data-mining and analysis way, but we’re able to meet in the middle and develop a tool that helps our team each day to do our jobs.

[Image changes to show people working at computers in an office setting]

It’s become one of the main channels that we use to communicate with customers.

[Image has changed back to Tamati Shepherd]

Tamati Shepherd: One of the key things that we’ve learnt is there actually is a science to service delivery.

[Image has changed back to Amanda Dennett]

Amanda Dennett: Vizie tool is now used by other Departments and agencies across Government, which I think gives us all a pretty good sense of pride.

[Text appears above CSIRO and the Australian Government Department of Human Services logos: The Human Services Delivery Research Alliance used innovative technologies, research and approaches to support an evidence-based, sustainable national service delivery program]

Vizie :  Vizie tracks, integrates and visualises customer feedback in real time.

Unlike most commercial social media tools, Vizie uses our expertise in natural language processing and text analysis algorithms to group content by topic, providing social media managers with immediate insight into the major issues that they can expect to deal with on any given day.

Vizie also allows social media managers to drill down to channels and individual posts; record any engagement with these as part of permanent "case histories"; and automatically archive and produce reports on all indicators measured by the platform.

We designed and developed Vizie based on extensive time spent with the department's social media managers, including observations of everyday workflows and co-design of a series of iterations of the platform.

Since Vizie's initial deployment, we've continued to work with the department to collaborate on incremental updates to the tool.

The results

Connecting with customers

Vizie's success has seen it scale up to match the Department of Human Service's fast-growing social media presence, with the platform now deployed across a number of service lines as well as Centrelink.

Graphic representing Vizie tool

With people using social media more than ever before, The Department of Human Services has deployed Vizie across a range of their service lines to help monitor customer feedback across social media channels.

Vizie uses natural language processing techniques to organise social media posts based on content.

This helps the department’s communications teams connect with customers faster and track topical issues in real time.

Vizie has helped the department build a great reputation on social media, and even allowed them to connect with customers in unusual places such as video game and caravanning forums.

Our social media monitoring tool Vizie is transforming the way government agencies listen to, understand and respond to customer feedback from social media.

Initially developed for (and by) a team of less than five people, Vizie now acts as the primary social media platform for far larger teams.

The platform also significantly contributes to the department's reputation for providing timely and comprehensive digital responses wherever relevant queries arise – including in forums as varied as those for video gamers and caravan owners. Following initial reactions of surprise at these responses, a growing body of citizens now turn to official department social media channels as a first preference for information and queries.

The department's social media managers are also able to take an increasingly targeted "triage" approach to identifying at-risk individuals, based on the language and post structures they're using.

We are now in the process of commercialising Vizie, with a number of government and public-sector agencies also looking to adopt customised versions of the platform.

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