With an estimated one billion Facebook users and 200 million Twitter users, it's no surprise that, after years of talk about the rise of social media as a customer service channel, its time has finally come.
Most social media platforms are used for commentary, and comments are often service-oriented. But most companies have not recognized the need to use this mode of communication to respond to customers.
A large volume of interactions are coming into organizations directly via social channels. Increasingly, customers who start in a traditional servicing channel, such as a contact center, are turning to social media if they do not receive the response they want. These consumers skirt the traditional service channels, finding that their issues are likely to be addressed more quickly by "going social," because companies fear social media's ability to turn a small problem into a viral PR disaster.
Social networking is challenging organizations to reevaluate their approaches to customer service and how they address this new multi-channel opportunity. Social media contact center integration starts when organizations modify their servicing strategies and processes to accommodate and leverage the reality of tweets and other posts.
The challenge is that most contact centers have not kept pace with the social revolution, and they are uncertain about how to evolve their organization and technology infrastructure to support these interactions and integrate them into their overall servicing strategy.
Complicating this challenge is the lack of true social media servicing software. Contact center vendors from many disciplines -- including CRM, automatic call distributors, recording, workforce management (WFM), quality assurance and others -- are just figuring out how to provide software to help enterprise customers effectively track, manage and respond to social interactions at scale. Universal queuing programs are a great first step, but not enough to enable enterprises to address large volumes of social media feedback, comments and inquiries effectively.
Applications for social media contact center integration
Hundreds of vendors claim they would be the perfect social media customer service/contact center technology partner. Yet, there is no single offering that comes close to addressing all enterprise needs. Organizations that want an end-to-end social media contact center/customer service software suite need to purchase a few applications and integrate them, as well as tie them into the existing servicing infrastructure. Getting started is challenging and expensive.
The need for an end-to-end contact center servicing suite, and even targeted applications to address specific service requirements, is enormous.
For more on social media contact center integration:
Advanced technologies can help contact center agents
Contact center outsourcing should offer social support
And demand is only going to grow as more enterprises realize they have no choice but to build a servicing infrastructure and organization that enables them to respond to social media comments and interactions in a timely manner.
In the history of the contact center, no channel has ever rivaled the power, influence or transaction volume of the telephone.
However, DMG Consulting predicts that within five years, the number of relevant social media interactions will be equal to the number of phone interactions, with 70% to 80% being service-oriented and requiring attention.
Many organizations will avoid building formal social media servicing capabilities for as long as possible. DMG expects that 80% of organizations will underinvest in this area over the next four years. For those companies, the result will be a costly and potentially brand-beating customer revolt.
But the opposite is also true: Companies that do invest properly have a great opportunity to differentiate themselves from their competitors.
Donna Fluss is the founder and president of DMG Consulting LLC, a provider of contact center, back-office and analytics research, market analysis and consulting services.
To read DMG’s 2012-2013 Social Media Customer Service/Contact Center Product and Best Practices Market Report visit http://www.dmgconsult.com/services/smcs.asp.
This was first published in January 2013