Call Center Technology

Servion Gives the Age of Social Networking a Voice

By Paula Bernier, Executive Editor, TMC  |  March 01, 2012

This article originally appeared in the March issue of Customer Interaction Solutions

There is a lot of talk right now that online chat, social media, e-mail, and other new technologies will replace voice communications when it comes to customer contact and service. David Baker, vice president of Servion, does not agree. In fact, he believes that voice will become increasingly critical for large and small companies around the globe. And his company is currently working in 20 of those countries. Baker recently shared the thinking behind his views in a Q&A with Customer Interaction Solutions magazine.

Why is voice important in the age of social?

Baker: The phone is a ubiquitous device and will probably not be going away anytime soon. We are an on-the-go nation and, as such, we need to have every option available to us to interact with one another – be it voice, video, text, or e-mail. In the world of social media, the cell phone still plays a key role in being the main device used to interact with one another. The interaction may not always be through voice, but voice is still important. As long as companies still depend on IVRs and agents in the call center to handle incoming calls, then voice will still play an important role in the social media evolution0.

The millennial generation is famous for not using phones, but texting instead. How does this play into your thesis?

Baker: Interacting with one another in the social world via text is common place, but once you get into the business world the phone (voice) still plays a major role in how you communicate to your bank, insurance company, favorite retail company, etc. Companies are still spending significant amounts of money on their call center technology through upgrades, enhancements and replacements in order to give their customers options when communicating with them. Voice is still one of those options that call centers rely heavily on.

How will customer service evolve in a world of clouds and mobile devices?

Baker: The world has become an anytime, anywhere, anyway place. Gone are the days of brick and mortar and 9-5 business. In order for companies today to stay one step ahead of their competition, they need to make sure that they have all angles covered when it comes to customer service. The days of all agents handling only voice calls has passed us by. Now agents need to be separated into certain skill sets where they can handle multiple requests from multiple modes of communication. Those companies that do this the best will have the greatest chance of success in the age of social media.

What is the biggest CRM challenge of the decade?

Baker: Being able to give the customer access to your business anytime, anywhere through any media. Also, you will need to make sure that you have the right people in place in order to keep up with what people are saying about your company through Twitter, Facebook, YouTube (News - Alert), etc. Companies need to make sure that they have the capabilities to read and respond to any questions or comments about their products or any negative messages being said about their companies on these media and have the skilled people in place to respond to these messages. The last thing you want to have happen is what happened to United Airlines when they broke a guy’s guitar and didn’t take the right steps to make him happy. The customer wrote a song about it on YouTube that went viral and caused a huge customer service problem for United Airlines.

How should companies prepare to provide exceptional service in the future?

Baker: Companies need to stay current with what is happening with social media. They can’t just rely on the fact that angry customers will just write a letter or call them up to complain. Companies need to make sure that while they are giving their customers anytime, anywhere, anyway access to their business, they also need to make sure that they are properly staffed and trained on the customer service end in order to be able to handle all the requests that are coming in from different modes of communication. If companies can be successful at that, then they will spend less time monitoring Twitter (News - Alert) or YouTube for negative publicity and more time hearing and reading the great things that their clients are saying about them. As the old saying goes ‘Diversify or Die’.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi