The e-retailer and provider of print services works with Scout Labs, a technology vendor that combs social media, as well as the broader web, for mentions of Vistaprint. By listening in on its comments, Vistaprint has reduced its customer service calls.

Vistaprint Ltd., an online retailer and provider of print-related services, wanted its Facebook and Twitter presences to bolster its profile. “We’re on the Internet, we don’t have bricks-and-mortar stores, so what people are saying about us is very important to us,” says Jeff Esposito, head of the company’s social marketing initiatives and public relations manager.

To understand whether its efforts are working it measures its share of online conversations, as well as the percentage of those conversations that are positive.

To determine what consumers are saying about Vistaprint, the retailer works with Scout Labs, a listening platform technology vendor owned by Lithium Technologies. Listening platforms comb social media, as well as the broader web, for mentions of a particular brand or product category, then analyze that data to produce metrics such as a brand’s share of online conversations. Scout Labs provides Vistaprint with a weekly analysis of Internet conversations on blogs, message boards and other social media that mention Vistaprint and its competitors. That data allows the retailer to pinpoint whether a particular offer, such as 80% off business card orders, creates a viral effect, he says.

In addition, a member of Vistaprint`s outsourced customer service team also monitors Facebook and Twitter and responds to customer service issues that come up on those sites. Vistaprint has found that issues can often be resolved faster via those social networks than on phone calls, or even e-mail, says Esposito. And, since the dialogue is public, the answer one customer receives may keep another customer from posing the same question. For instance, when one customer who was using the Spybot antispyware program complained on Facebook that he couldn’t load the site, Vistaprint replied by posting a link to a page where he could add Vistaprint to the program’s safe site list. Esposito says the effort has resulted in a decrease in calls and e-mail to the e-retailer’s customer service department, but he declines to say how much.

Since Vistaprint began working with Scout Labs to break down the positive and negative aspects of online conversations, it has seen a noticeable decrease in the percentage of Vistaprint-related conversations that are negative in tone. It attributes the decline to its customer service efforts. “People are seeing that if they ask us a question, we’re there to respond,” he says.