Canadian Tire – Measuring the ROI of Online Customer Service and the Christmas Spirit

tighed    November 2, 2014



Title of Post:  Canadian Tire – Measuring the ROI of Online Customer Service and the Christmas Spirit

            canadian tire

Organization Name:  Canadian Tire

Headquarters:    Toronto, Canada

Industry:   General Retail

Web Reference:

Metrics and Social Media

Almost every organization doing business today is using at least one form of social media.  Of these organizations, most are still planning to establish and implement data collection and measurement programs.  This means that their current usage of social media includes no metrics.  In fact, organizations cite measurement as their biggest social media challenge.  Implementation of any new initiative should involve a measured approach – if the impacts to the business aren’t measured, how are adjustments or improvements determined?  How is the value of the investment measured?

measuring social media

One of the biggest challenges in social media marketing is that there are hundreds of different elements that could be measured. Sometimes it seems like we’re measuring for the sake of measuring, or counting for the sake of counting. Yet, the question that really needs to be answered is: “Is social media worth it?”  In other words, “Are social media programs contributing to business goals?”

The key is finding the right things to measure.  Will counting clicks, likes and followers tell you what you need to know?  Are page views, posts or mentions indicators of business performance? How do we make the quantum leap from measuring clicks to understanding how they affect business performance?  Building a program of social media measurement is a complex effort that requires knowledge, skill and collaboration.  Listen to Amber Naslund of Radian6 on Intrepid Radio. (20 minutes)amber

Interview with Amber

In order to keep social media programs accountable – to ensure there is a business case for them, a program of measurement must be in place.  To do this effectively and in a valued-added way, organizations must have clearly defined goals.  Each element to be measured and each metric to be calculated must align with a business goal.  Measures and metrics must be collected in context and translated into useable information.  As Kevan Lee writes in his article for Buffer:

When you see the metric, do you know what you need to do? If you don’t, you’re probably looking at a vanity metric.  The end goal is action, not eyeballs.

To further make the point that metrics must align with organizational goals, Jason Falls (digital strategist and thinker of things) says, in an interview with Pamela Muldoon for Content Marketing Institute:

metricsIf you talk to executives at companies, there are three business metrics and these are the only three metrics they care about… revenue, cost, customer satisfaction.  Customer service is the starting point for a lot of companies in developing goals for what they want to do with social media.  Customer service is the easiest of those three to manage, mitigate and report on to the executive team in a manner that they will understand and say ‘aha, now I see why social media drives business’.  But, you don’t measure those things primarily in dollars and cents.

Description of how metrics and social media are used for business performance

Retail giant, Canadian Tire, lists commitment to customer service as one of its business goals as pointed out by Michael Medline, President of Canadian Tire, in the Financial Post:

I would like to see us become absolutely world class at two things we do. We have to be able to use data and serve our customers better by being able to analyze that data, and be able to change the way we serve our customers.  The second is under a big [umbrella] that I will call digital — moving from the old world to the new world in retail.  We have so many weapons at our disposal to make this a greater company, and so many of them are now based in technology and digital.

In fact, Canadian Tire made a move toward that digital and customer service commitment by making their website more social by adding a live chat feature.  The result was that customers could type questions to their sales team – and receive replies in real time. Customer response to this addition to the Canadian Tire site was positive, and many opted to use live chat rather than a call centre.  The return? Customers were happy because they could get immediate answers to their queries and Canadian Tire was also happy because it saved $40,000 a year in call centre costs.  Not all of the benefits could be quantified in dollars and cents, some were less tangible and more qualitative. The key metrics in the measurement of a social customer service initiative?

  • canadian tire store Number of issues handled
  • Number of customers retained/upsold
  • Cost savings for diverting call centre costs
  • Customer satisfaction ratings
  • Plus or minus positive and negative online mentions

Clearly the social media “mentions” metric without the context of other corporate measurements is not informative.  It is one thing to know that the percentage or ratio of positive or negative social media “mentions” has improved, but that fact alone does not indicate an improvement in business performance.  Coupled with other corporate measurements and results, the relationship can be seen between a social media metric and an organization’s business performance.

There are various significant benefits to be realized through the deployment of social media strategies, however, in order obtain the most value, organizations must decide what results they need from those strategies.  The tide continues to rise for social media and those in the forefront will have measurement programs in place to direct their efforts and chart their successes.

The Ultimate Measurement Program?

In an original effort to capture and highlight the value and volume of social media in our culture, Canadian Tire, in 2011, launched the Christmas Spirit Tree.  As a reflection of efforts to measure the impact of social media, the tree was designed to capture all real-time blog posts, tweets, public Facebook messages and other online content containing specific Christmas keywords and transform them into data that was then visualized via the lights on the tree.  The brightness and colour of the lights would vary depending on the source of the messages, so at times when online sharing was at its highest, the tree shone at its brightest.  The tree not only touched the hearts of people through technology, but actually bridged the gap between the virtual and real worlds by transforming cold data into a majestic and beautiful visualization. (The Story).


  • Goal definition is the first step in choosing and measuring a social media solution.
  • Don’t aimlessly measure, put metrics to work to achieve business goals.
  • Move away from data and toward a quest for information and knowledge.
  • Evaluate many different aspects of return on investment to see what works.
  • Use data and other metrics in combination – counting by itself is trivial and lacks context.


Social Media Metrics Secrets (Google eBook) by John Lovett


Think with



Content Marketing Institute

Intrepid Radio


Submitted by:  Denise Tighe, University of Waterloo, Social Media for Business Performance.  To contact the author please email:

If you have concerns as to the accuracy of anything posted on this site please send your comments to Peter Carr, Programme Director, Social Media for Business Performance.