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Call centers as social media hubs

John Dix | Jan. 28, 2014
Contact centers are changing rapidly with the arrival of cloud technology and the ability to interact with customers over new social channels, including Twitter. The transformation has implications for everything from how companies deal with customers to the role agents play and how internal groups are best organized. Network World Editor in Chief John Dix caught up with the CEO of LiveOps, Marty Beard, for his take on where we stand and where we're headed.

Companies also realize that if they do a good job people will actually tweet about it "I just got great service, I'm really happy." So the higher-level point is, if you're not professionally engaging customers on other channels just like you would on voice, your brand is at the mercy of the social sphere, whether it's Facebook or Twitter. 

One of our largest customers is Royal Mail in the UK, which is obviously just like the U.S. Post Office, and they use our LiveOps social capability to monitor Twitter. They've been awarded now because their customer service has gone up so much. 

Does your technology look at the person's social sphere to try to prioritize the people that have bigger social networks?
That's starting to happen among some of the most forward thinking call centers, which is really interesting. At heart of it this is all about routing interactions to the right people. Simple example: Somebody calls in with a very low bank balance but they have 1,200 Twitter followers and a Klout Score (which is a measure of social influence) of, say, 60 or 65, which would be really high. So the routing will say, "If a customer calling in has bank balance below X, send to the general pool for support, which means you might be put into a queue. If a customer has a low bank balance and a Klout Score above 50, route to the high-value agent team." So this type of stuff is starting to happen. I think in 2014 it will continue to gain momentum. 

Do you look at much beyond Twitter and Facebook?
Those are the two main ones. LinkedIn is gaining influence, partly because another theme here is contact centers used to be primarily inbound, which means people need help and they called or they tweeted or they emailed. And increasingly what's happening is there's been a recognition that call centers are actually sales channels. So if you have the right information about the person you can up-sell them. Or if you have down time between handling inbound, you can do outbound marketing, outbound sales. That's where LinkedIn is starting to be used.

Part of the pressure to go to cloud and multichannel is agents are being asked to be more than customer service representatives. They are starting to be asked to do up-selling and marketing while they have somebody engaged. If I got you off Twitter and I've solved your problem and you've calmed down, then I can say, "Hey. How about this?" LiveOps does a lot of this. You'll see some situations where you'll get 25% up-sales.

You mentioned not everyone in a contact center will handle every channel, so how are organizations organizing their people?
They have what they call pools. They'll have a general pool trained on voice and able to handle basic customer questions, and at the other end of the spectrum they'll have super-agents, agents that have been trained to handle all interactions — voice, mobile interactions like SMS, tweets, etc. And then in between they might have a social pool that can do web chat and email. 

 

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