Social media can be a game changer for contact centers

by Sohini Bagchi    Jul 08, 2013

social messaging

Customer engagement is shifting from phones and email to social network and mobile applications. Contact centers and BPOs that rely heavily on customer opinion and feedback for their clients, are currently seeing social media platforms as a powerful customer service channel. They believe by tracking social media conversations through Facebook, Bing and Twitter, these companies can understand consumer preferences and perceptions towards their offering, improve client relations and in turn boost profitability.

Many believe that social media can be a game changer in contact center and BPO industry. As Hari Nair, CEO and Founder, HolidayIQ.com says, “Companies are increasingly realizing the importance of social media strategy for growth and profitability. As BPO and contact centers are the liaison between a company and its customers, companies will encourage their partner BPOs and contact centers to monitor this trend so as to develop a long term relationship with their clients.” He adds that multi-channel communication - where companies can monitor social media sites and generate sales leads will also continue to grow. And just like voice contact centers, social contact centers will gain a greater momentum in the coming days.

But challenges remain…

Despite certain optimism, Donna Fluss, President of DMG Consulting, a provider of contact center and analytics research mentions in an article that use of social platforms by contact centers will take some more time to mature although it has a high growth potential. According to her, at present most companies have not recognized the need to use this platform to respond to customers. For many, it is just a secondary option and they focus on social media sites when other traditional servicing channels fail. There are reasons as well for this behavior. In the past there have been instances when a small issue was turned into a viral marketing disaster. Fluss believes it all depends on how they address this new multi-channel opportunity to generate value.

Unfortunately, most contact centers have not kept pace with the social revolution. They are unsure about how to evolve their organization and IT infrastructure to support and integrate them into their overall servicing strategy. According to Fluss, the availability of quality social media servicing software is also a challenge. There are hundreds of solution providers who claim to offer the perfect social media customer service. However, what is missing is an end-to-end social media customer service software suite with customized apps that can address specific service requirements in different industries to handle huge amount of social media feedback and queries.

Making social media relevant

The social media outlook in contact centers is however attractive. In a report released last month, Gartner predicts that by 2015, avoiding communication by social media will be as damaging to a company’s reputation and customer service levels as ignoring an email or phone call is today. DMG Consulting also predicts that within 2-3 years, the number of relevant social media interactions will be equal to the number of phone interactions, with 80 percent dealings to happen over social platforms.

Experts believe the demand will increase when customers do not have an option but to build a servicing infrastructure where they can respond to social media comments, feedbacks and interactions in a timely manner. As Nair observes, contact centers of the future must hire and train the right people to manage these evolving communication channels as traditional agents need not necessarily be a good social media agent for these services.