Assessing and Addressing Customer Needs
Social Media savvy individuals can be found in every age group within your customer base – and this includes both of your customer bases – your external consumers and your internal customers (your call center employees). Your customers are becoming more mobile and social by day – so you must be able to support these specific channel needs across your customer lifecycle communications. For example, Customer Thinks’ 2009 survey of business managers revealed, “Around 70 percent of managers believe that external social media can provide better marketing or customer insight, or help them influence prospective buyers.” This said, an impressive two-thirds of U.S. consumers believe that companies should increase their social media usage in an attempt to “identify service/support issues and contact consumer to resolve” (proactive communication – a challenge that customer service organizations have been challenged with for years now has another communication channel to embrace). So two different perspectives on how social media should be leveraged have emerged. In addition, both are correct, which makes developing and executing your call center social media strategy that much more complicated….er…exciting.
Things to Consider
There are many things that call centers should consider when creating and executing their social media communication strategy. Similar to any other communication channel, you need to make sure you are monitoring, responding, and measuring your social media communications.
- Monitor – By actively monitoring social media websites, blogs, and forums, the call center can address issues in an immediate fashion, learn more about its customers, and reach out to them in ways that are personal and meaningful….and across the customer lifecycle. Social media communications can and should be used to acquire new customers, service those you have, retain them, and then turn them into advocates of your brand. You must also make sure that you have the infrastructure to capture these interactions. Like any other call center communication, you want to measure and improve upon your social media communication key performance indicators.
- Respond – Issues should be addressed as they occur rather than be dragged through the social media mud, which costs your company valuable resources like time and money. If you have not heard about United Breaks guitars, be sure to read about it at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Breaks_Guitars. Yes, this customer service nightmare did not just travel across the social media seas; it is forever etched into Wikipedia history.
- Measure – As with any call center or enterprise communication, you must constantly be measuring, analyzing, and refining your communication strategies based on results. Call Centers and enterprises have been monitoring and refining their communication strategies for years, so folding in measurement of a new social media channel although new, is very important.
In final thoughts - by meeting the customer where they are at rather than where you want them be is an incredibly effective way of knowing whether the systems and practices you have in place are working. This can mean big things for your company, your call center and its employees as well as your loyal customers. I remember attending a conference in the 90’s discussing how the Internet would affect call centers. The top concern being discussed was that call centers would not need agents anymore with the birth of this “online” channel. Now, call centers are recruiting agents that have “Web 2.0” skills. If you don't know how to tweet, or get your point across in 140 characters or less, you need not apply. Social media is changing the way that companies and their call centers do business, and it is an incredibly challenging yet exciting time for those of us in the customer communications industry.