This is the first in a three-part series on the changing needs and expectations for customer service. “Going social” is more than a way to share thoughts and ideas; it is a new way of communicating and interacting that is impacting and influencing all aspects of our lives. A majority of enterprises now accept that they need to “do social media,” but most are still not sure that this means. The most innovative organizations have re-engineered their organizations to incorporate information from social media throughout the customer lifecycle; in these rare situations, everyone from the CEO to product development to production and fulfillment is tied in and online. Examples of organizations like these are advertising firms that cannot afford to be behind the times; but such innovators are the exceptions.
Most organizations are still struggling to figure out what to do about social media. They know they have to incorporate it within their communications strategy and infrastructure, but have not figured out either how to do so cost effectively or how to get the most benefit from the feedback they receive from social media. And the area where they are struggling the most is customer service.
To give enterprises their due, it’s understandable that they are challenged to incorporate social media into contact center and service organizations. In general, contact centers have delivered service in pretty much the same way for the past 30 years. We’ve seen innovations and improvements that enhance what we do in contact centers, but no great changes. And, just as organizations are being forced to operationally integrate the handling of multiple channels – specifically, voice, email, SMS and chat – social media is throwing a proverbial “wrench” into the status quo and forcing organizations to totally rethink their approach to customer service.
The following is a list of activities and actions that organizations are taking in order to incorporate social media into their customer service and contact center organizations. In most cases, each activity described below is just the beginning of a process, but it’s an important first step, as it gives organizations an opportunity to get acquainted with this new channel.
- Put together a committee with members from sales, marketing and service, and build a social media strategy; the strategy specifies who is responsible for responding to social media feedback and how to use it on a proactive basis.
- Create a company persona, and attempt to support it using a variety of social media channels.
- Pull 2 to 10 (and possibly more) of your best agents and assign them to handle social media interactions, with the goal being to respond to feedback on a timely basis.
- Create one or more Facebook, LinkedIn and/or Twitter accounts, and assign a marketing person or two to handle all social media interactions, regardless of what the discussion or feedback is about.
- Invite customer service to create a social media service strategy and to figure out how to incorporate social media feedback into the service stream.
- Invest in text analytics to automate the handling of social media interactions and to function as an early warning system for the enterprise.
- Route social media interactions to the contact center, in just the same way as any other interaction, and have them handled on a first come/first served basis, along with all other contacts.
We’re very interested in hearing about how you are handling your social media customer service channel. Please drop us a note or comment below and let us know what has and has not worked for your organization.
Donna Fluss is the founder and president of DMG Consulting LLC, the leading provider of contact center and analytics research, market analysis and consulting. She is the author of The Real-Time Contact Center, the Contact Center Executive and Management Briefing, the Contact Center QA Guide, the PC-DSS Guide, and many other leading industry reports on contact center hosting, UC, dialing, IVR, speech analytics, performance management, workforce management, surveying, QA/recording and contact center analytics. Contact Donna at firstname.lastname@example.org.