Customer service organizations, normally implemented within a contact center, have always been focused on achieving and developing a 360-degree view of the customer, and on providing a consistent experience across interaction channels – be it voice, web, chat or email.
Social media, although it usually requires changes in technology, should be increasingly treated as another customer interaction channel, and integrated into the existing technology platforms, business processes and benefiting from established service levels.
In fact, the contact center is usually the only structure in the organization capable of handling and managing large volumes of interactions on a timely basis. Social media interactions, although qualitatively different, share a great number of characteristics with interactions in other communication channels, such as voice and email.
7 Steps to Win the Social Customer Service Challenge in the Contact Center
The effective integration of social media within the contact center demands a systematic, intelligent and proactive approach to customer interactions. From a best practices perspective, this approach can be distilled into seven elements that need to be in place for an effective social media customer service in the contact center.
1 – Monitor the Social Media Channels
The contact center needs to get access to conversations across social media networks and channels in a way that enables the organization to unify the customer interaction history and search across channels. The company should not only be able to discern intent and sentiment, and sort through the noise, but must be able to identify and act on the relevant conversations and interactions. Businesses should also provide customers with a variety of options so that they can easily ask for support.
2 –Unify Service Across Your Channels
The contact center needs a unified, streamlined process for handling interactions in the social media channel together with interactions from other channels. Because social is another communication channel, your brand value and business processes must be upheld across all channels. Additionally, interactions should be directed to qualified agents, matching the interaction to the person with the right skills and most available to provide a resolution in the most efficient manner.
3 –Unify Your Customer History
This unified approach means that customers should benefit from a single view of their interactions in the contact center and should have consistent experiences, benefiting from seamless transitions as they use different interaction channels. The universal customer history must include all interactions – traditional and social. An agent that communicates with a customer needs to have the entire set of customer information and interaction history at its fingertips.
4 – Unify Your Knowledge and Applications
The contact center should leverage business and customer knowledge at the agent desktop, and support workflow, escalation, reporting and analytics that include social media. With a “socially enabled” contact center, social interactions are seamlessly tied through the agent applications, empowering agents with knowledge management tools.
5 –Deliver Omnichannel Proactive Service
The contact center should provide agents with the tools to engage customers with relevant knowledge and guidance at their fingertips. Agents also need the ability to seamlessly change the channel, because in some situations traditional channels such as the phone or chat might be the more appropriate for following up or addressing issues. Businesses should also extend a traditional customer service offering with the use of online communities, tracking the activity while intervening to solve issues.
6 –Measure Your Business Performance
As with phone and other channels, it is important to monitor and measure social media key performance indicators (KPIs) to improve service quality and performance. This can be as basic as simply tracking the interactions or as sophisticated as using monitoring systems while establishing customer experience metrics that include social media–specific KPIs.
7 – Bring Social Media to Your Business Processes
Social media is transforming customer service as we know it. Organizations need to leverage social channels to improve customer care, and customer care should extend beyond the contact center. As customer service is a crucial part of your brand, companies need to strive to have in place processes that use all the expertise available in the company, while ensuring that the company has one voice, one brand, and one experience.
When businesses have these seven elements in place in the contact center, they become able to leverage social media as an interaction channel that contributes to brand value and delivers measurable benefits within customer service, sales, and knowledge management processes.