Is Your Contact Center Ready to Jump on the Social Media Bandwagon?

K. Landoline

K. Landoline

Summary Bullets:

  • Social media as a potential source of strategic information in the contact center has been a serious consideration for the past two years as social media Web sites have become a channel for individuals venting and/or boasting regarding their customer service and business interactions.
  • Many businesses have jumped to quick conclusions regarding the value of social media and what should be done with its information relative to other data currently available to agents. It is becoming apparent that more thought, time and effort is required before the marketplace settles on strategies that will optimize this potentially valuable flow of information.

Over the last decade many call centers have made the transition from a single channel, voice-only solution to multichannel contact centers. In addition to customer self-service channel access, which includes Web browser and interactive voice response (IVR) interfaces, end users now expect to have additional agent-assisted channels such as e-mail, fax and chat accessible to handle their corporate interactions available at their discretion. Over the past two years yet another very tempting channel of access has become available to customers seeking to get their customer service issues resolved – social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and others. Some contact center managers have been investigating social media data as the nirvana of customer care solutions. And many contact center vendors, including Alcatel-Lucent, Avaya, Cisco, Interactive Intelligence and Siemens now incorporate interfaces to popular social media sites into their contact center application functionality. This enables corporations to monitor social media site feeds for both negative and positive mentions of their company by customers and prospects and actually put relevant social media interactions into to contact center queues along with voice calls, chats and e-mails for agent consideration, handling and resolution.

While acknowledging that a corporation ignoring the opportunity to mine social media information flows may miss the chance to identify a customer issue or capitalize on a customer opportunity, blindly jumping into this arena could do more harm than good. Managing agent call queues in the multimedia contact center is already a complex task and few companies do that very well today. My fear is that companies tapping into social media data streams without the development of a well thought out and rigorous methodology and a strategy to evaluate, prioritize and handle tweets and Facebook postings will lead to a social media bias in agent work activity. This may result in erroneously putting social media inputs at a higher priority and ahead of other critical contact center customer information such as general customer history information. Without fully integrating social media into established channels, a company risks missing something important in the social media stream or incorrectly devaluing something from another channel. It might also obfuscate the customer’s true relative long-term value to the company. If this is allowed to occur at the expense of the other customer service channel interactions, the likely result is further customer service blocking.  In addition adding social media data to the agent tasks without reevaluating workloads could lead to the generation of a new version of a familiar call center recorded message that would sound something like this – “Your tweet is important to us. We will get to it and respond to you as soon as possible.”

Before jumping into social media there are several issues a company must weigh and many discussions to be had including; “Do we have the people capacity to handle social media data?”, “How do we keep the social media channel in balance with the other channels we manage?” “How can we prioritize all our channels in a universal customer interaction queue to includes social media?” “Do we have the proper people, methodologies and strategies in place to evaluate and respond (or not respond) to social media customer interactions properly?” and, maybe most importantly, “Does our social media monitoring plan reflect how our target market uses social media?”

If you don’t yet have answers to these questions you may not be ready to jump into social media, just yet.

About Ken Landoline
As Principal Analyst within the Current Analysis Business Technology and Software group Ken Landoline tracks the enterprise unified communications and contact center (UCCC) markets.

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