Social media has revolutionized the way customers interact with businesses by opening up a door to a form of two-way communication. It has created a new outlet for customer’s to voice opinions and start a conversation with businesses using IVR and other new capabilities. Social media channels have given the customer a platform to create a change in favor of the consumers.
Business2community.com reported that in October 2011, one customer used social media to incite a change in Bank of America. Molly Katchpole, a 22 year-old graduate, put up a fight against the new five dollar a month fee Bank of America planned on implementing for debit card use. She used social networks to encourage other upset customers to sign a petition that resulted in 300,000 signatures. This story caught the eye of the media, which catapulted Katchpole into the national spotlight, including national TV appearances on ABC, CNN, and CBS. Bank of America heard her voice and decided to drop the plan to charge customers for using debit cards.
For call centers, this shift in power to the customer has had an impact as well. With the Internet and social media being used as a channel to interact with customer service agents, there are more ways to connect with a company than by calling a representative to speak with an agent over the phone. Technological advancements now allow consumers to have access to multiple forms of communication. While on hold, a customer can also be emailing for support, live chatting with a rep on the company’s website, writing on the company’s Facebook (News - Alert) wall, or tweeting about the issue.
So, how can call centers cope with this change in customer service? They can become a multi-channel contact center that merges the phone, Web chat, IVR, social media, and all other popular communication methods. It may be a challenge to manage multiple communication methods, but creating a unified customer experience is an important step to improve customer service.
Facebook and Twitter (News - Alert) are becoming popular forms of communication between businesses and customers, so companies need to adapt to new media and use it as a direct point of contact with customers. Businesses have even created new jobs for their companies for social media experts and to monitor what people are saying about their brands and engage with their customers through social media.
How does a company go about embracing and integrating social media into its business?
First, change the company’s view of social media. It’s a new opportunity to engage and provide service to customers. Complaints on social media platforms can be viewed by many current and potential customers, but if companies are able to resolve the issue in a timely manner, so many people will be impressed and see a company that truly cares about its customers.
Also, educate and train the company’s customer service agents. With many forms of communication, agents require training to learn how to respond to and manage all these channels. Social media is unstructured, so agents must be able to quickly handle this more casual type of customer interaction.
Finally, track and analyze the company’s social media interactions. This will allow the company to uncover trends and learn about recurring issues. By listening to customer opinions, businesses have the opportunity to make necessary improvements to products and/or services and satisfy customers.
When companies realize the impact of social media and take its strength seriously, they can then effectively manage and improve their customer experience.
Edited by Jamie Epstein