January 15, 2013
Contact Centers Still Largely in the Dark with Social Media
By Tracey E. Schelmetic
When social media jumped the barrier from a few cutting-edge users to pretty much everybody (who among us hasn’t debated whether to accept friend requests from our parents and aunts and uncles on Facebook (News - Alert)?), most Americans were delighted.
It’s a way to stay in touch, a way to stay current and a way to view lots of cute pictures of friends’ children and pets.
In step two, Americans began using social media to contact the companies with which they do business. It’s safe to say that businesses weren’t so delighted. Suddenly, they had a multitude of new customer contact channels that needed to be monitored and acted upon. Many of these businesses were still trying to balance their Web channels, and suddenly they had social media and even mobile apps to mix into the chaos.
Many, if not most contact centers are still struggling to bring social media under their umbrellas and give the customers who are heavy users of these channels the customer support they demand. Some haven’t bothered to try yet.
As part of its annual U.K. Contact Centre Decision-Makers’ Guide, and in partnership with IT technology solutions provider mplsystems, British analyst firm ContactBabel (News - Alert) identified that about 28 percent of respondents still consider social media to be a “wait and see” topic, with many demonstrating uncertainty about the business value that social media could bring, ContactCentreHelper is reporting this week.
Larger companies with a strong consumer focus – banks, big box retailers, tech companies – have been unable to avoid implementing a strong social media program (whether they are delivering is another story).
But industry analysts believe there is still a lot of room to grow for small to mid-sized businesses.
“There’s clearly still considerable uncertainty about the role that social media can play in an organization’s integrated customer service activities – that’s why we’re convinced that smaller and medium size contact centers need a lower cost of entry deployment model for adding social media as a core communications channel,” Paul White, mplsystems’ CEO, told ContactCentreHelper.
Smaller companies need not build social media platforms from scratch, as many modern, hosted call center platforms available today include social media functionality, helping companies pull these newer channels in among the more traditional media. Twitter (News - Alert), Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest and other channels may be monitored, responded to and even evaluated with call center analytics in the same way that inbound telephone traffic and e-mail are managed today.
While it’s natural for companies to be hesitant – it is a lot of extra work and it is critically important to get right – simply ignoring it is not the answer. Customers are well attached to social media, particularly since they can use it on the go on their smartphones, and their expectations are rising, ignoring the issue won’t make it go away, and it may begin to damage valuable customer relationships.
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