Leading Logic

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May 2010 | Volume 28 / Number 12
High Priority

Leading Logic

Erik Linask (News - Alert)

By Erik Linask,
Group Editorial Director, Technology Mareting Corp

So you collaborate with your marketing team to create the best possible programs for reaching your audience, and you start seeing the leads come. You get 2,000 registrants for your Webinar. Your Facebook (News - Alert) group members and Twitter followers double. You fill two large fishbowls with business cards at a tradeshow. Throw in the hundreds of people who have already signed up to receive the eNewsletter from your online community and – great news – you have built a potentially staggering volume of leads in a short period.

The truth is, though, it’s only great news if you are properly equipped to handle those leads. If you aren’t able to get the
right leads to the right staff in a timely fashion so they can act on them before they go stale. In fact, Paul Dunay, Avaya’s (News - Alert) global managing director of services and social marketing, recently mentioned to me that following up on large volumes of quickly collected leads can be a daunting task – no matter how many leads you are able to generate, you also must have the capability to follow through on them effectively.

One of the keys, of course, is building automation into the process. The more a company is able to leverage rules and routing engines in its sales and customer service processes, the more efficient its sales and customer service efforts will be. In fact, there are quite a few vendors already adding increased automation into their software – look at Interactive Intelligence’s (News - Alert) Interaction Process Automation, for instance.

But high lead volume over short periods – peak volumes – require increased, actionable intelligence, such as lead scoring, so that the best leads – by whatever criteria you deem most reliable – are prioritized and delivered to the appropriate sales teams. It is often possible to segment sales teams by their strengths or areas of expertise (i.e., product type, communication medium, etc.) and further increase success rates.

Referring to the complex world of communications today – it’s not simply a question of manning phones any more – VanillaSoft President and CEO Ken Murray (News - Alert) explained, “There are so many moving parts that allow you to try to locate the best person to contact at an organization… you need some form of automation to make the process more efficient.”

Perhaps the most intriguing of those moving parts is social media. When you factor in the social media campaigns many
businesses have begun, the task of managing customer interactions and leads becomes even more taxing because you must sift through volumes of information to find not only the hot leads, but also other valuable insights from followers.

There is no question that social media is a growing force in the business world. If you turn away from your TweetDeck for a minute, you are likely to miss countless tweets and retweets about your business sector, and managing Facebook and LinkedIn groups has become a full-time job in many cases. But, for the business that is able to capitalize on the combination of increased exposure and marketing opportunities, the world of social media will become a gold mine in its own right.

The contact center is a natural haven for social media, of course, because it allows for the integration of social interactions directly into the CRM and sales lifecycles.

“I believe the best place to build a business case around social media is in the call center,” said Dunay, in fact. “Where else can you deliver immediate benefits to your existing customers and delight them a superior customer experience at the same time?”

The question is not whether to engage in social media, rather, to what degree and how can you best integrate social media into your existing strategies. Once you determine the most effective strategy for your contact center environment, you’ll be on your way to leveraging this great communications phenomenon to increase your business opportunities. But, as Murray notes, don’t forget the old telephone – the one thing successful organizations never forget is that human contact is still the cornerstone of business communications.

For more on social media in the contact center, be sure to read Rich Tehrani’s (News - Alert) Publisher’s Outlook, where he discusses some of the most telling results from a recent survey conducted by Avaya on social media in the contact center.

Also, book your tickets now for Los Angeles, where The Social Customer Summit will take place October 4-6, 2010, collocated with ITEXPO (News - Alert) West. The conference sessions at The Social Customer Summit will provide an intriguing and influential look into the confluence of traditional contact center strategies and the latest in social media from many of the foremost experts in the space.

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