Tag: Social Media

The Social Media Buzz; Time for Decaf?

I was part of a great ACCP event last week sponsored by Avtex and hosted by Pella Corporation at their headquarters. There was a wonderful presentation made on the subject of monitoring and responding to customers through social media by Spindustry and their clients from Omaha Steaks. Then, this morning, the Wall Street Journal dedicated an entire section to the subject of Social Media and IT.

In case you’ve had your head buried in the sand for the past year or two, the buzz in the call center world is currently “social media.” The very mention of the term seems to get call center personnel wound up like they’ve just swigged a triple-shot-chocolate-sugar-bomb-espressiato with a Red Bull chaser. Everyone wants to talk about it. The big call center conferences have been scrambling for the past two years to fill their keynotes and workshops full of social media gurus, how-tos, and software vendors. All the buzz has prompted great conversation with clients and colleagues.

For years, I’ve been advocating that every client listen to what customers are saying on the internet and through social media outlets. There is a huge leap, however, between keeping your ear open and diving into a full scale social media task force within your customer service team complete with the latest, greatest social media monitoring software. One of the questions that came up in the ACCP meeting last week was whether our group was doing Customer Satisfaction research for customers who use social media to contact a client company. The reality is that, for most of our clients, the number of customers using social media as a means of communication is still very small. So small, in fact, that they must be regarded as outliers and not representative of the general population of customers.

That does not mean that social media will not grow in importance and influence. It definitely is growing in importance and influence (But, how far will it grow? How influential will it become?). It does not mean that social media is not a critical piece of the marketing and customer service picture for some companies. I simply want to make the point that the time, energy and resources that an individual company invests in social media efforts should be considerate of how many customers they have actively engaged in the medium. Our group is helping some clients determine that very fact. By investing a little money in a survey to find out how important social media is to their customer population as a whole will help them wisely steward their resources when it comes to making an investment in their overall social media strategy. I begin to fear that clients will throw a lot of money and resources to engage a small number of customers in the social media arena when a much larger segment of customers are still encountering significant service issues through traditional channels (as boring and old school as those traditional channels may be).

In the meantime, I’m sure the social media buzz will continue unabated. In the call center industry there always seems to be a buzz where there is software, hardware and/or workshops to sell. Please do not misunderstand me. I’m not against social media in any way. I’m a blogger, tweeter, texter and Facebook junkie. I think social media is great and have led the charge in getting clients to “listen” to what customers are saying via social media. Social Media is here to stay and will continue to evolve. I am, however, dedicated to helping my clients make wise, measured decisions when it comes to their customers and their resources. So, when it comes the social media buzz, make mine decaf, please. Remember, there was a lot of buzz about betavision, too.

Creative Commons photo courtesy of Flickr and thetrial

The Call Center as Social Media Outpost

Customers talk about you on Twitter. At ICMI's ACCE 09 conference last month, the buzz was around expanding the call center to become a social media outpost. It is rapidly becoming clear that interacting with customers is no longer just through phone calls. Interacting with customers must happen through the emerging communication channels like Facebook and Twitter.

I recently had an article come across my desk from Keith Fiveson of ITESA. He agrees:

Agents can outreach and act as a “social media outpost” casting their net to capture conversations, hear, and deal with hearts, minds, problems and people that impact your business products or services. Problems are inherent, in any business and it is essential that you are diligent in addressing and resolving them. Using a contact center as a “Social Media Outpost” is a good strategy to address concerns, bad press or consumer affairs issues that can plague the best brand management strategy.

Here's the entire article: Download The New Frontier Your Call Center as a Social Media Outpost

Are you preparing your call center for the new frontier of customer communication?

How Customer Service Should Respond to Social Media

Whenever I hear someone in the blogosphere or Twitter railing against one of my clients, I immediately bring it to their attention. In most cases, I've witnessed my clients responding immediately and appropriately to the situation in an attempt to rectify a problem. After sending a handful of negative posts to one of my clients, however, I received a polite email back saying, "Thanks for sending these to me, but I just don't know what to do with them!"

For all of you companies who are reading this and asking yourselves the same thing, here are a couple of things you should think about:

  • Consider the issue. Is this an isolated case of one customer who had a problem spiral out of control? Or, is it a policy or procedural problem that is much bigger than one blogger on a rant? If it's the former, you should be able to quickly address the issue, satisfy the customer, and hopefully get a few props from the customer on his/her next post. If it's the latter, then you're wasting your time chasing a bunch of individual consequences from the root problem in your control. Fix the problem, then go out and address the social media outlets.
  • Email the person. Put your Customer Service skills to work immediately. Tell the person that you're sorry to hear about their negative experience and you'd like the opportunity to look into it and make it right. You will quickly learn if the person sincerely wants the issue resolved or if they are determined to be an unsatisfied customer on a rant. Communicating directly and discreetly with the author allows you to quickly address the issue without being viewed as trying to aggrandize your response or without getting into a spittting match with the blogger/tweeter.
  • Don't demand a retraction. If you have successfully resolved the issue and the customer is satisfied, it's acceptable to politely ask that they share the experience with their readers. Don't demand, and don't black mail ("I'll do this for you if…"). Just do the right thing for the customer.