Social Media and the Contact Center

There have been countless discussions in the past year over whether the contact center should get involved with social media, and if so, how it should be involved, and when should it jump in?

The time is now if you are a B2C company. Some firms such as ComCast and JetBlue are taking support questions via Twitter. Consumers—your potential customers—are sending out tweets asking for suggestions on all sorts of topics, including how to use your products. They want to engage with you. If you’re not part of the “conversation-sphere”, your competitor most likely is.

Some hesitate to have the contact center respond to social media. Granted, the contact center agents you have responding to one set of questions may not be the appropriate people to respond to an entirely different set of questions.  You have to build in business rules to get the messages to the right place.

At the same time, if you have groups of people monitoring and responding to social media, whether they are in Marketing, Technical Support, or some other department, they are participating in a virtual contact center—and the question becomes how easily you can keep track of their activity?

Per a Harvard Business Review blog article, Six Social Media Trends for 2010, “Best Buy’s Twelpforce leverages hundreds of employees who provide customer support on Twitter. The employees are managed through a custom built system that keeps track of who participates. This is a sign of things to come over the next year as more companies look to uncover cost savings or serve customers more effectively through leveraging social technology.”

Given that social media does have a type of service level—whether articulated or not—there’s no reason why these questions and comments can’t be ACD routed for review and if appropriate, for response.  ACD routing brings a lot to the table to help stay on top of social media.  It provides statistics for the amount of activity so that you can respond to upper management’s questions with more than just “there’s a lot of it”. It ensures that each item is reviewed in a timely manner, so that you’re more likely to have caught the incendiary comment or question and escalated it before it blows up. You can tell when the level of activity sharply increases, and can plan out how many people will be necessary to stay on top of it. Ideally, you don’t have to build a custom system for it—your current ACD can already handle this type of new activity.

As in the Best Buy case, it’s using a new communications channel that your potential consumers have adopted, and expect you to be able to respond to. The benefit here is that if you do it well, it can become a showcase of how responsive you are to your customers. And wouldn’t we all like to be in that position?

Is your company using social media to engage with its customers? What are they doing with it? We’d love to hear about it.

Thanks for reading,

Rachel Wentink