Blending social media in the call centre

Embracing social media can enhance business. Gaining experience could be the difference between being competitive in 2012 or perhaps losing the race. There are some do’s and don’ts to consider before launching in and here are our top 10…

1. Don’t panic and assume that social media is a must – carry out some research to check that these platforms are relevant and appropriate for your brand and customer base.
2. Do set out a well considered and thorough social media strategy before you start procuring, training, recruiting… merely dabbling can be a dangerous pastime because of the public nature of social media – and you must abide by the rules of each channel. Be prepared and informed so that you get it right first time.
3. Don’t forget customer service! Customers expect the same level of service and the contact centre must remain the human interface whatever medium is being used.
4. Do ensure the platform fits the purpose for which it is being used – for example, Twitter is great for swift responses to customers and listening to what they are saying but it might not be ideal for resolving a customer service issue.
5. Do be aware of ‘social customer service’ where customers assist each other via social media platforms to resolve issues instead of contacting the company concerned. Consider how your organisation can best support blogs and forums and moderate what is being said about it discreetly.
6. Do be transparent and genuine in your communications – social media is about engaging with other people, not manipulating them, and they will quickly see through a ‘heavy sell’ badly disguised as chat. Respond in an informal manner that is acceptable to the user.
7. Do carefully consider how you will integrate social media into your existing channels. For example you can upload your promotional marketing emails onto Facebook, to be shared by recipients on their own Facebook pages free of charge.
8. Do respond to the customer when they are using the company’s online site. This might be by using a Callback system, which recognizes that a user is staying on a particular page and triggers a pop-up window enabling that user to request a telephone call from an agent; or webchat – which is similar but an online live chat session is started by the contact centre agent.
9. Do consider that once social networking is established, contacts into your telephone and email channels will go down and will offset costs to implement social media.
10. Do be aware that social media can be integrated into a contact centre by using software alongside the existing ACD (Automatic Call Distribution) system. Inbound SMS, email, social media, web chat and faxes can be delivered to the relevant agent in each queue.

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