How Gumtree Improves Online Safety with Customer Service on Twitter

Gumtree is the UK’s no.1 classifieds website. With 18.1 million monthly visitors accessing over 1.8 million ads live at any one time, people in the UK use Gumtree to advertise everything from jobs, motors, property, goods, services and pets.

Starting in 2000 from humble beginnings as a local London classified ads and community website, Gumtree has gone from strength to strength, expanding into other markets, including Australia and South Africa, and in 2005 was acquired by eBay’s Classifieds Group.

In this eighth edition of the HelpHandles Insight Series we meet the support team working proactively behind the scenes at @HelpMeGumtree, to better understand how they are improving online safety for customers.


At the beginning of 2016, Gumtree revealed a major rebrand to improve the overall experience for customers. Together with a new logo, brand identity, improvements across its mobile and desktop channels, a marketing Twitter handle and a separate dedicated help handle for customer support, Gumtree are on a new found mission, focused entirely 100% on the customer.

Meet the Team

The @HelpMeGumtree team are dedicated to offering customer support and advice on how to better utilise the features on their classifieds platform and to stay safe whilst doing so. We caught up with Rossana Piscopo, and Leanne Vella, who work in the Social Media Support Team to learn more about their social support operations.

Rossana Piscopo, Social Media Support Manager

Rossana Piscopo, Social Media Support Manager @HelpMeGumtree

Q. Hi Rossana, please tell us about yourself, your role at Gumtree and your day to day responsibilities.

I’ve been working with Gumtree for over 3 years as a Team Leader for the social media support team. Since joining Gumtree I have also worked as part of the customer support and quality and assurance teams.

As part of my day to day activities, I manage the @HelpMeGumtree help handle looking through data and statistics and analysing how it is performing so that we can post content our followers want to see more of. I then communicate this information to the team to ensure we are aligned and maximising the channel that is designed to support our Gumtree customers and answer their questions.

Q. Can you tell us more about your team structure, your staffing plan, and how many support agents you have working across @HelpMeGumtree?

We’re a team of eight which includes six specialists dedicated to supporting our users on Twitter round the clock. I also have another specialist in the team dedicated to customer satisfaction on all the other channels including the apps.

Q. How do you manage a 24/7 social support operation? What are the biggest challenges?

We strive to offer a fast, high-quality and consistent service to customers to ensure the best level of support whether they contact us at 1pm or 4am. The biggest challenge is pre-empting the workflow to ensure we have appropriate staffing to manage user questions in a timely manner.

Q. How do you deal with fraudulent activity on the Gumtree platform? What measures do you have in place to be able to respond and resolve fraudulent activity or scams quickly on such a large volume platform?

I work closely with Gumtree’s dedicated Trust and Safety team keeping them abreast of current trends and attempted scams. We post safety advice daily on Twitter, and tweet on topics such as phishing attempts and how to spot fraudulent activity.

I have three specialists on shift during peak times as we aim to get back to all our user enquiries within 30 minutes or less — we’re very hands on with our users. We also post polls, as this gives us an insight to what our followers want more information on, so that we can factor in such topics when preparing upcoming tweets.

Q. What KPIs do you measure and which are most important to you and why?

Our main focus is to provide an excellent service in a timely manner. As a team, we have targets focused on customer satisfaction and also the response time of each contact made. I give updates to the team on a regular basis, so that we continue to work hand in hand and meet our followers’ expectations.

It is also my responsibility to look into customer feedback and ensure their suggestions are looked into. We want our users to have the best and safest experience possible when using the site and that goes hand in hand with the service that we give.

Q. The @HelpMeGumtree average public response time for the month of November is 1hr 12mins. This excludes responses to Direct Messages. Can you tell us more about your (average) response time for Direct Messages via Twitter?

Last month we checked over 13,000 messages, most of which were direct messages. Our average response time for November when you look into public responses and direct messages together is just nine minutes. We always aim to respond to users within thirty minutes.

Q. Can you tell us more about what skill-sets you look for when hiring social support agents?

When I’m recruiting a new team member I look for people that have a passion for customer support and a flair for social media. Finding people that can think outside the box to come up with a solution that might not always be straight forward is important too.

Q. What does your staff on boarding and training look like?

The first week is spent with me going over processes and procedures as well as explaining how our system works. I also dedicate time to go over our goals as a team, as it’s very important that we’re all aligned. I also set individual goals and areas of focus, then set regular meetings to go over these so that they have all of the support that they need to succeed. This is a process that I hold with everyone, both collectively and individually.

Leanne Vella, Social Media Support Agent

Leanne Vella, Social Media Support @HelpMeGumtree

Q. Hi Leanne! Please tell us about yourself, your role at Gumtree and your day to day responsibilities.

I’m a 25-year-old social media agent and I’ve been working with Gumtree for 4 years. When I first started, I worked with the Trust and Safety Team, and have enjoyed putting this into practice and keeping our customers safe in my current role. I believe that Twitter is an extremely helpful platform to listen and engage with our customers. On a daily basis, I answer our customer queries and create posts about our policies and tips on how to be safe while using Gumtree.

Q. Tell us what you enjoy the most about working at Gumtree?

Gumtree is a fun place to work and there are so many talented and friendly people. The energy everyone gives motivates me to keep up with my goals. It’s also a place where — no matter what your age, ethnicity or background — you feel respected.

Q. Which skills do you think are the most important for working specifically across social media support on Twitter?

You need to be concise, efficient and super friendly! You’d need to be able to think outside the box and go the extra mile to help customers to keep them engaged and returning to the site.

Q. What are your biggest challenges with supporting customers on Twitter?

The most challenging part of the job is when we have to manage enquiries that are beyond our control, such as occasional technical difficulties. Our job is to inform people and reassure them that it’s being fixed — it’s always resolved quickly!

Q. Can you tell us any funny/interesting stories or unusual experiences you have had with dealing with customers on Twitter?

We do come across funny tweets, especially when customers try to sell you their items, but my favourite was when this particular customer wanted to sell his car.

The conversation started with him complimenting my name, and explaining that he named his car Leanne. He owns/owned a land rover and decided to name it Leanne Drover. He spent most of the time explaining how much he loved his car and how sad he is that he’s selling it, that he totally forgot to tell me about his query!

Customer Service Performance on Twitter

@HelpMeGumtree is impressively ranked in the top 10% on our global real-time performance index of over 400+ brands offering customer service on Twitter. During the month of November 2016 we took a close look at their customer service performance on Twitter, here’s how they are doing…

Inbound Volume

Over 4 weeks in November 2016, @HelpMeGumtree received 2,033 public mentions to their help handle…

@HelpMeGumtree inbound volumes from 01/11/2016–30/11/2016

Response Rate

… and responded to 81% (1,647) of those mentions…

@HelpMeGumtree responses under 30mins from 01/11/2016–30/11/2016

Responses under 30mins

… of which 87% (1,433) were responded to quickly in under 30 mins.

@HelpMeGumtree response rate from 01/11/2016–30/11/2016

Community & Sentiment

Due to the real time nature of Twitter, the @HelpMeGumtree team are able to establish one-to-one connections with customers directly via public tweets and private direct messages to resolve issues quickly. In return, customers thank individual members of the team personally, staying on channel, to actively contribute back to the community, reporting incidents of fraudulent or criminal behaviour. This sees high levels of engagement across the @HelpMeGumtree help handle, and has resulted in a positive overall sentiment score on their HelpHandles page

@HelpMeGumtree sentiment score

Online Safety & Advice

To tackle issues of customer safety, Gumtree use Twitter to proactively educate their community to gain the most value from the platform. Using a consistent tone of voice and a blended use of multi-media, Gumtree builds trust with users by proactively tweeting advice on how to stay safe and maximise the benefits of using the platform.

Opportunity starts on Gumtree

To back the rebrand, Gumtree have released a new TV campaign named ‘Opportunity starts on Gumtree’. Gumtree also sponsor well known TV shows in the UK, most notably Celebrity Big Brother and the Premier League on BT Sport to increase reach and awareness of their brand and message among target customers. These campaigns are cross promoted on Twitter using the #ItStartsHere hashtag for a consistent brand message and tone of voice.



Gumtree’s rebrand is a great example of business transformation in action.

By recognising the seismic shift in economic climate, Gumtree are maximising the use of digital channels like Twitter to respond to the market. They are also disrupting themselves by innovating across communications, community management and technology to shift focus entirely on delivering the best possible experiences for its customers, and creating an improved, safer, and more inclusive classifieds community in today’s age of the customer.

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For indicative purposes all metric analyses have been conducted over a period of 4 weeks from (01/11/2016–31/11/2016) Accounts are programmatically scored out of 100 on our performance index across 4 metrics. Inbound mention volumes (25%), Response Rate (25%), Responses under 30 mins (25%) and Sentiment (25%). All metrics are available and updated every 15 mins on