A critical shift has occurred in contact center operations. In 2012, for the first time, the percentage of non-call interactions reported by respondents to the CFI Group’s annual satisfaction index reached 30%.
While much of this growth comes in the areas of email, web self-service and chat, social media is having an increasing effect on customer service—both directly and indirectly. Directly, through increased use of social media as a service channel, and indirectly, by taking some of the heat off other first-line service channels.
Percent Breakdown of Contact Method
Source: CFI Group
1. More Service Touch Points
Does your company have a call center or a contact center? Increasingly, remote customer service operations are shifting to the latter designation. While social media isn’t yet a major first-line, customer-initiated service channel, it’s growing, notes CFI Group’s “Contact Center Satisfaction Index 2012.”
Data reveal a small, but growing trend toward social media being effectively used for recovery and damage control. While it’s neither a dominant nor a preferred method of contact for answering questions or resolving problems, CFI Group says, “social media is quickly becoming the dominant force in customer buzz.”
In 2012, 47% of survey respondents told someone else about their contact center experience, up from 45% in 2011. Among those customers, 91% shared their call experience on social media. To encourage positive buzz and soften the effects of negative comments, companies have created social media jobs as they embrace this growing technology and to maintain an effective online presence.
What it comes down to is offering customers options in how to interact with your organization as a service provider. Resolution of customer service issues using social media is perceived as less effective than other methods, according to the American Express 2012 Global Customer Service Barometer. But 60% of consumers feel companies have improved their response times using social media channels.
A key way to enhance the experience for your customers on social media is to engage with them directly. Fonolo – call-back software for the call center – offers an easy-to-use tool that allows you to escalate conversations over social media to a live voice call. While social media is a key channel to engage with your customers for easy-to-solve issues, nothing replaces the voice channel for more complicated transactions.
Get Your Customers Talking, Not Typing
2. New Technology Tools
Social media as a customer service channel presents both challenges and opportunities. While it gives your company more options for interacting with customers, it’s also a channel where you have less control.
Implementation Options for Social Customer Care
Source: TELUS International
Gartner Inc. identifies three technology-based areas critical to implementing an effective social media function in your call center:
- Social analytics: Define how, who, and what tools you’ll use to analyze your company’s reputation and footprint on social media.
- Social platform selection: Decide if you’ll partner with a vendor to enable social interactions, conversations, and collaboration or handle them in-house. Among many aspects to consider: security issues, technology options (software-as-a service, cloud-based platforms, and others), and staff expertise.
- Digital content management: Plan for how information technology will help organize, share, leverage, and use social media data.
To illustrate the usefulness of analytics, Google Analytics offers case studies on companies using the services to support customer service efforts. For example, Fairmont Raffles Hotels International used Google Analytics to measure the effectiveness of its social media efforts. Monitoring Twitter activity, the hotel chain could see how tweets contributed to room bookings, revenue, and conversion objectives. PBS used analytics data and insights to drive visitor traffic increases by 30%.
Another way of optimizing the effectiveness of social media is using it as a tool to drive customers toward the voice channel. For example, Fonolo offers a service that allows quick escalation of social conversations to voice, while passing the context of that dialogue along to agents and sales reps.
3. Changing Staff Roles and Responsibilities
Traditionally, marketing and customer service have been two disciplines on parallel tracks toward similar goals: meeting customer needs and making sales. At banks and credit unions, for example, tellers, customer service representatives, and call center staff achieve these goals on the front line, while marketing staff back them up with collateral materials, promotional campaigns, and special events.
With social media, the lines have begun to blur. “Social media can supplement traditional marketing and help credit unions educate and promote, but its real strength is in the ability to engage members,” says Patrick McElhenie, sales planner at CUNA Mutual Group …