This article originally appeared in the May 2012 issue of INTERNET TELEPHONY magazine.
Five years ago, all a business needed to do to create social networking opportunities within the company was buy a few water coolers or throw a coffee maker and a cheap vending machine in a corner and designate it a break room. But that doesn’t work in today’s hyper-networked world. You need more than coffee. You need architecture.
With the proper social architecture in place, there are endless possibilities to what an organization can accomplish to support and grow internal social networking or social business as some call it today. Because let’s face it, the most important assets of a company are its employees and the information that they possess when interacting with customers. Whether troubleshooting issues, discussing new sales, or even through billing and collections, all of these functions play an important part of the overall customer experience and their perception of a company.
With the idea of social networking – which when defined could mean a number of different things such as general user forums, message boards, etc. – there are a number of areas within an organization that could truly benefit from this. Internally looking for people who can help solve a customer issue, it would be similar to the knowledge workers within today’s areas of customer contact just for internal purposes and finding others within the organization that exhibit the skills and traits needed. Social networking could allow for the posting of information to find people who can help solve a new issue not found in a document or database, though those documents can also be stored in the network. With a complete view of a customer’s history, all of the important pieces like internal collected information could be recovered quickly. Information like knowing who from the company interacted with the customer last, or information on open cases or tickets, previously handled items, previous experience interacting with the client, previous projects and outcomes and current sales activity – all play a very important role. Think about someone sales reps who is about to go into a customer meeting, wouldn’t it be great to know exactly what happened during the most recent complete customer interaction with their company? Or if they are about to take a call from a customer, wouldn’t it be great to know the reason for the call and if there is current sales or collections activity and what is their current perception of the company?
Teams could communicate and collaborate on various projects and post project-specific information. This really expands the collaboration network to include vendors and even customers through federation or self-help websites, all which aim to that same goal of improved and enhanced customer service. Now most customer contact centers do this all of the time as part of their processes, try to record important information and have it on file, but they are often limited to that specific person or specific group. Wouldn’t it be great to apply these same principles to the enterprise so that everyone can speed up answers and be more knowledgeable about their issue, whether it is in sales, finance or product management? Do you have any examples of how your organization has made steps like these?
Mike Sheridan (News - Alert) is executive vice president of worldwide sales with Aspect (www.aspect.com).
Edited by Stefania Viscusi