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Guest View: Contact centres as social media hubs

Abhijit Banerjee | July 5, 2013
This decade will see the advent of a new dimension to contact centres – the social element, driven by the need to listen to customer conversations, real time.

Large consumer facing brands must reinvent their customer support infrastructure and adopt the Customer Interaction Management (CIM) approach with a sense of urgency. The genesis of the CIM approach lies in the constant evaluation of the change in customer contact environment. There has not been a more dynamic time for the industry than today.

Consumers are hyper communicative, wanting to express their opinions of brands 24x7, wanting real time resolution of issues and the fact that they are getting younger adds to the challenge. Mark Zuckerberg is lobbying (sic) hard to lower the FB registration age from the current 13, increasing the degree of difficulty for companies dealing with generation Z’ers (people born after 1995) and their natural connection with technology platforms. Juxtapose these market dynamics to your existing contact management infrastructure and you will get your answer on your preparedness.

For decades, contact centres or customer interaction management was set up for three distinct purposes. To enable quicker and efficient information dissemination, to automate transactions and provide for an integrated approach to complaint management. This decade will see the advent of a fourth dimension – the social element, driven by the need to listen to customer conversations, real time.

Experience gathered in managing customer interactions will come in handy while implementing social listening and response strategies to the existing contact centre infrastructure.

I strongly feel that there are huge advantages for large brands in integrating enterprise social media technologies with their ‘Contact Management’ solutions. Very strongly represented in the graphic by IDC below; look at the significant reduction in cost for companies with an employee base of 5,000 - 9,999. Here are some key benefits:

1.    Capturing Opportunities & Sales - Depending on business expectations organisations can choose to tweak their social-enabled contact centre to drive sales. Social media technologies can help in multiple ways. Outbound contact centres are able to make targeted calls on the basis of consumers’ social media behaviour keeping tabs of their current requirements. Staff at inbound call centres can be more aware of the products and services in greater demand and therefore be better prepared for selling those.

2.    Increase productivity and reduce cost – As I have mentioned earlier social enablement of the contact centre infrastructure is a logical point of capturing the chatter around a brand. Customer service infrastructure is already interacting with millions of consumers therefore by capturing conversations technologically can substantially reduce the cost of monitoring brand conversation. Enterprise social media tools can increase productivity by automatic text analysis, routing social mentions, sharing tailor made reports and so on.

It also saves brands from deployment of any additional manpower to monitor social platforms; the numbers of which seem to rise alongside the phenomenon of maturing maturity of each social platform’s relevance to an industry.    


3.    Issue Identification and Readiness Enablement: Implementing strong listening platforms via social media not only gives a brand a level of transparency and legitimacy, but also allows for quick response to customers who voice issues on social networks. Tools like Cisco WebEx Social can capture chatter around brands or products and push the discussions as reports to the front line, call handling staff, keeping them updated. And ready to handle common grouses being raised in social media about company products or services.   

4.    Support Front-end Brand Custodians - Your contact centre management system is the point where all your branding and marketing efforts culminate. You could have created the most awesome TV commercial, spent millions running it during the Olympics on popular sports networks but if you fail to deliver the promise you made in the commercial at the point of interaction, you have wasted your millions.


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