The Evolution of the Social Contact Center
I think it started happening about seven years ago. Web 2.0 and social media kicked in gear an evolving platform and ecosystem of friends and business sharing that continues to open up new and exciting connection and convergence opportunities for marketing, support and services. I check in like the other 40+% of the social web to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and multiple other blogs. And, I think, "we the people" connect, consume and communicate like never before. Companies with contact centers are constantly looking to evolve, expand and harness the enormous potential for social platforms, to create extraordinary customer experiences. Across multiple channels of operation, boardroom walls and organizational silos are coming down, and thinking is changing.
Mobile tools facilitate this “people convergence” and the transparency, human connection and sharing via blogs, vlogs, forums, social networking platforms and community portals grows in scale and scope every day. These are all varied forms of the Web 2.0 technology that evolved in the early part of the century. Yet, the use of these platforms, users, ideas and connection points have made them increasingly invaluable as tools for businesses, community and connection.
Blogs are increasingly being seen as platforms that give insights into and for a company, its culture and people, while forums give space for consumers to praise or vent about products, services and their customer experiences. Social networking websites such as Facebook and Twitter are venues for discussions and conversations among consumers as well as between consumers and brands.
Our research indicates that consumers are increasingly using social media to do pricing or usage comparisons on a brand before making a purchase. As such, the capacity of news – good or bad – spreading is just enormous. A tweet or a Facebook comment by an angry customer can cost a company much more than dollars.
The advent, rise and popularity of the social web has morphed contact centers into powerful action hubs. Today, the contact center has evolved in role and significance to cater to the rising demands of a socially aware consumer group. With social technologies, contact centers are equipped to:
Address customer issues in a timely manner / Turn-Around-Time (TAT)
By creating accounts on social media websites and using social media monitoring tools, contact center agents are able to address customer grievances rapidly. Timely responses and updates to users not only help resolve issues faster but also convey that you’re a “listening” and customer-friendly brand. Today’s customer expects you to respond to issues quickly (remember blogs, twitter and facebook all have different TAT requirements and you can put a disclaimer to manage expectations).
Gather customer insights
Forums, blogs and social networking websites are hubs for information that conveys prevailing customer sentiment about a brand, and its products and services. Agents can tap into this information and gather insights, using sentiment analysis tools, to render better customer experiences.
Collaborate with customers
Customers don not always have problems. They can provide solutions too. Peer discussions on social platforms can help solve many problems without any need for intervention from contact center agents. Building a community that gets involved is essential to deflecting, collecting and injecting new ideas and innovation into the business.
Thwart potential PR disasters
A bad PR can cost companies their brand name, loss of money and loss of trust in their product/ service. With social media monitoring tools, contact centers agents can track negative customer sentiment and take speedy action before damage can occur.
Most blogs and social networking sites are free. Constant social media monitoring helps deflect and reduce direct calls as issues are more likely to get resolved with “tweets” or posts. In addition, social media tweets or posts also facilitate a “one-to-many” problem-solving approach enabling agents to address more than one customer with the same grievance at a single time, which is again cost-saving.