Social media can enhance your customer approach

CIOL Bureau
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HYDERABAD, INDIA: The leading contact center technology vendors have begun the process of creating practical ways to incorporate social media into their offerings.


Most of that work aims to help enterprises monitor and engage with customers using social networks. But this level of engagement provides only limited benefits to the enterprise’s customers not using those social networks, says analyst firm Ovum.

According to Ovum, social technologies can be integrated in such a way as to allow enterprises to use their social communities to also better serve customers through traditional channels in their contact centers.

Enterprises should view social forums as a breeding ground for knowledge to be used in contact centers.


Companies across various industries have started to view social media not as a novelty requiring experimentation, but rather as a must-do, an everyday tool for communication. Many have begun by monitoring the buzz about themselves on social networks such as Twitter and Facebook.

Many others have kicked off marketing efforts to gain brand recognition from customers using these new social channels. Savvy enterprises have started constructing their own social forums, inviting customers to join and then allowing customers to interact with each other on these branded communities.

While all of those efforts can show solid returns for enterprises, they tend to only provide value to customers actually using the social networks. In the customer service and support realm, most customers still use traditional channels to interact with companies. Primarily, they use the telephone to call contact centers. To date, enterprises have not used their social interactions to improve their contact-center-based customer experiences.


It needn’t be that way. The social web, especially social communities and forums, can be the source of valuable user-generated content that enterprises could — and should — capitalize on to provide better customer experiences through their contact centers. In a sense, this is an opportunity for enterprises to use social media as a force multiplier in contact center interactions.

Many social technology vendors argue that social channels actually do help customers that are using more traditional methods. The idea is that using social channels for customer support reduces the volume of contacts for agent-assisted interactions. This places social media interactions in a similar role to self-service tools, freeing contact center agents to work on more complex issues or issues in which a positive outcome can cement long-term customer loyalty.

Even if true, Ovum sees his benefit as very indirect, whereas as harvesting user-generated content for the contact center can directly impact the quality of non-socially mediated customer interactions.


End users currently generate a great deal of high-quality content and knowledge on community forums. Enterprises could capitalize on the content and knowledge generated through and on social channels to enhance the customer service interactions of customers using traditional channels. Additionally, enterprises could use feedback about knowledge items from customers on social channels to provide updated information to agents about the effectiveness of various knowledge base items.

This also holds true for cases in which an enterprise engages with a customer on a social network, having its own staff assist customers with a problem. Enterprises should also be able to reuse the content from social interactions between specialist agents and social-media-resident customers when the same question comes up from an unrelated customer talking to a contact center agent.

This type of reuse will help transform social media’s perceived value as a customer support tool, taking it from a fringe item benefiting the techno-savvy to a general-purpose tool aimed at improving the service experience of all customers.