Your customers are talking about their experiences and opinions of you—to other customers and prospects. Social media sites like Facebook and Twitter have drawn a critical mass of consumers. Their comments about your products and services are easily shared and visible to more and more people which can carry a lot of influence. In short, the social web empowers everyone to be an author. Social media has emerged as a prominent platform in the Web 2.0 revolution and has a direct impact on how companies engage with their customers.
Contact centers must acquire an organizational skill set to tap into and respond to this powerful new channel. Contact centers can embrace social media to get closer to customers, spot trends, identify influencers, and create customer advocates, but they must align with social media norms that reflect an understanding that their organization does not own these sites.
I strongly believe that social networks and blogs are now the fourth most popular online activity, ahead of personal email.
This marks a shift from companies and customers having one-to-one interactions to customers having simultaneous, public conversations with each other. People are increasingly looking to friends and family as trusted advisors. Today, it’s critical that contact center managers empower frontline agents with access to these conversations and provide working guidelines to drive their response to customer issues. The voice of the organization in these conversations is just beginning to be heard.
While each social media site has its own norms of behavior, at a minimum, frontline agents need a set of best practices to know when to listen to the conversations and when to jump in. Another major difference between traditional contact channels and social media sites is that when you respond, your conversation is often visible to a large audience. Conversations between customers and contact centers could easily “go viral,” which can be positive or negative depending on the content.
We’ve entered a highly collaborative world: social media enables companies to literally co-create their products and services with customers, not just for them. Social media and what it means to business is being co-created daily by the people who show up—so, join in, even if it’s initially just to listen.