While most multichannel contact centers struggle to keep the channels they do offer – phone, Web, chat, in-store presence and e-mail, at a minimum – too many of them simply aren’t ready for the next steps: 21st century channels such as social media and mobile apps. This is too bad, because customers are certainly ready for them.
Most companies use social media at least to some degree. They keep an eye on Twitter (News - Alert) posts or maintain a Facebook page. This simply isn’t enough; today, customers expect to communicate with companies via social media, and if they have a complaint, they don’t hesitate to post it. Many companies have found out the hard way how damaging social media posts gone viral can cause before the companies even knew what hit them.
Part of the reason for this is they are placing the responsibility for social media into the wrong hands: marketing, public relations or even sales. Social media belongs in the contact center, alongside all the other channels, so it can be integrated into a complete, 360-degree view of the customer. It also needs to work two ways: both inbound and outbound.
According to a recent Web event sponsored by contact center and unified communications company Interactive Intelligence (News - Alert) called “Delivering Social Customer Service,” it’s not about simply answering your customer's questions. Instead, in order to be successful, you need to build a relationship - during each interaction, across each channel. More than simply having a presence on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn (News - Alert), this relationship-structured, often one-to-many interaction method, is how customer service is evolving and is the essence of social customer service.
Inbound social media posts are critical. During the Web event, Michael DeSalles of Frost & Sullivan (News - Alert) asked participants to determine when it is that customers turn to social media.
“It’s when we’re at wit’s end with the IVR, the agent and maybe even the supervisor’s supervisor,” he said.
So what happens when customers complain via social media? If customers don’t get an immediate response through traditional channels, they turn to social media: Facebook, Twitter or Google (News - Alert) plus. (There are even social media sites dedicated to poor customer service such as GetHuman.com.) It essentially gives customers a way to air their grievances from anywhere and on the spot.
But it’s not only about complaints. It’s about reaching out to customers and engaging with them where they spend their time online. It’s about identifying “super users” and “brand ambassadors” whose social media following and influence is such that they become a valuable marketing tool themselves.
The problem is that few companies have successfully integrated social media into their overall customer experience. It’s an “also ran” concept that is often “bolted on” (usually unsuccessfully), leading to siloed information, a disconnected customer experience and a risk of missing critical information.
Social networking engagement capabilities, which allow companies to monitor, track and summarize social media, are increasingly a part of call center platforms. This allows information siloes to be integrated with other channels, which is critical not only to boost the quality of customer service, but so it can be examined by the same analytics contact centers use to group, rate and manage other channels, drawing intelligence from past interactions.
Poor integration of social media leads to lost opportunities, small problems becoming large problems and a decrease in customer satisfaction. And as we already know, dissatisfied customer today waste no time in airing their grievances to dozens, hundreds or even thousands of friends.
To watch and listen to a recorded version of the Web event, click here.
Edited by Alisen Downey