The Impact of Social on Today’s Traditional Contact Center

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now signEven 30 seconds is too long for today’s in-the-moment, always-engaged customer to wait, spelling trouble for the future of customer service through traditional channels like email and phone. The world is in the middle of the biggest shift in personal computing; the transition from desktop computers to smartphones and tablets requires an entirely new, mobile-first approach to customer service. Furthermore, that approach must be asynchronous, allowing the consumer to engage, disconnect, and pick up where they left off on their own terms.

There are three major shifts in how people are communicating with each other and with companies, all outside of the traditional call center model.

The Social Contact Center

For major companies, social media has risen and now makes up to 10% of all inbound customer contacts, and is growing faster than any other service channel. This powerful tool ensures customer voices are heard, both by companies and customer peers. Social media offers a convenient, mobile-first, real-time medium where customers can demand authentic, human engagement. It’s a hugely powerful tool for companies to engage and connect with their customers in an authentic way. It is potentially more efficient than other digital channels, as long as it is integrated properly into the contact center.

Peer-to-Peer Resolution

Establishing lasting connections is now increasingly essential and difficult, as companies work to build intimacy and loyalty in a time where consumers are more digital, more distant and more discerning. As customers trust brands less, they are beginning to trust their peers more. Customers have found their voice on social, and now that voice is growing louder and more powerful. Customers are turning away from brands and toward each other, expecting faster and more authentic engagement than ever before. Based on primary research, 50% of customers aged 18-29 are more likely to turn to social media when they have a technical issue rather than a support forum. This leads to challenges with delivering large-scale customer service in a channel that’s less structured and more emotional.

Mobile Messaging Applications

Mobile messaging consists of applications that provide over-the-top messaging functionality on phones and tablets (delivered via data, rather than an SMS network). WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger are the biggest in the West; WeChat is huge in Asia; and there are more coming up (Line, Kik etc).

These messaging apps are the biggest new force in communication, and only growing. The daily message volume on WhatsApp (owned by Facebook) is now 50% bigger than global SMS volume. Although standalone apps, these can be related to ‘traditional’ social media platforms; e.g. private messages initiated from a Facebook page all come through Messenger. Even Twitter DMs share a lot of the same characteristics.

What’s Next?

Plugging social media into traditional contact center models doesn’t work. Contact centers can’t treat social like asynchronous emails, or they can miss the real-time nature, leading to missed consumer expectations and loss of trust. With 64% of consumers preferring texting over voice as a customer service channel when given the choice, customer-centric organizations need to have real agents who are empowered to be flexible, authentic and able to resolve real issues in-channel.  To provide authentic, human service in a digital, mobile medium, with the efficiency of text—nothing beats social. It’s where customers are being human, and it’s where a brand can respond in kind. Contact centers that get both of these elements right can lower service costs while significantly increasing customer satisfaction.

Joshua March founded Conversocial in 2009 based on his vision that online communication and customer service was undergoing a fundamental shift, requiring businesses to invest in new processes and technologies to manage the rapidly shifting social landscape.

A leading proponent of social media, Joshua previously founded leading social application company iPlatform, one of the worlds first Facebook Preferred Developers, which was acquired in 2012. Having started his career in London, Joshua is now based in New York where he leads the US operations of Conversocial, as well as global strategy.