Why Social Media is a Disrupter for Call Centers

Social media is a phenomenon that has literally changed our lives.  Today, I would like to make the case for why social media is more of a disruptive to call centers, than you may at first believe.  Call centers at the core are massive routing systems.  We route phone calls, emails, tickets, SMS, and chats to correctly skilled agents.  

Did you know that in call centers today that email, SMS, and chat are often relegated to a specific set of agents?  Why?  One reason is that not everyone has the required grammatical skills but there are other reasons as well.

What about social media?  The reason social media is such a disruptor is because it is not simply routable.  Sure technology can find key words and we can route the appropriate URL or text to an agent but here is where it is different.  When we receive an email or a phone call, it is because the customer wants or needs something.  The agent then uses the resources at their disposal to resolve the “issue” and that, my friends, is Call Center 101. 

Social media does not have this type of concrete behavior.  It is the thoughts and opinions of random people.  Some percentage of those people may be your customers (or potential customers) and they may have legitimate needs that you could meet. 

Social media is different for other reasons as well:

  • Social media is permanent. The history of how well (or poorly) you handled the issue is archived almost instantly into the annals of search engines like Google; not to mention the social media site itself.
  • Social media is viral. Let’s face it, bad press travels faster than good.
  • Social media companies need to (eventually) make money. The future is constantly changing as they figure out the monetization of their services.

Are you prepared to have your agents represent your brand in this brave new world?  My advice would be to find your top few agents and make a social media team.  Empower them to interpret and act on your behalf in the social space.  Let them be known as an extension of your brand and reward them accordingly. 

What if they fail?  Replace them.  The social world will likely understand that, but if they succeed you could drive loyalty and ultimately profit.  Remember people don’t trust companies, they trust people.  Social media is a chance to embrace what we call the “Democratization of Customer Service”.  To learn more about that subject check out our Problem Solved Tour 2011.