Social media has revolutionized the way customers interact with businesses. It has given them a place to voice their opinions, not just as a handful of people, but as thousands or even millions (see what happened with Bank of America). As a result, customers have significantly more influence over companies because they help shape the brand image more than they ever could before.
This shift in power has had an impact on traditional call centers. Gone are the days when there was only interaction between the customer and live agent over the phone. Technology has advanced to the point where multiple forms of communications are used, often simultaneously. While waiting on hold on the phone, customers may be simultaneously emailing for support, live chatting with a rep on the company’s website, writing on the company’s Facebook wall, or tweeting about their issue.
How should a call center cope with this change?
By becoming a multi-channel contact center that merges the phone, web chat, IVR, social media, and all other popular communication methods.
Although it is certainly a challenge to create a truly unified and well-integrated customer experience, it is an important and necessary step to remain competitive and improve customer service.
The phone continues to be a standard method of customer service support, but people are becoming more comfortable and familiar with using social media as a means to get in touch with a company. Platforms like Facebook and Twitter are rapidly gaining popularity as forms of communication between businesses and customers. In response, companies need to adapt and learn to accept new media as a point of contact with customers.
So how does a company go about embracing social media? Here are 3 steps to consider taking:
- Change your view of social media. It’s not a threat, it’s a new opportunity to engage with your customers. Yes, it’s true that complaints on social media platforms can be viewed by many current and potential customers. But if you are able to quickly resolve the issue and respond in a timely manner, imagine how many people will be impressed and see your company as one that truly cares about its customers.
- Train your customer service agents. With so many forms of communication, agents require training to learn how to respond to and manage all these channels. Social media is different because it’s unstructured. Agents who are responsible for your social media properties need to be able to handle this much more casual type of customer interaction. The goal is to be quickly responsive and genuinely honest. People always appreciate truthfulness and react positively to it.
- Track and analyze your social media interactions. In doing so, you can uncover trends and learn what issues are recurring. This gives you the opportunity to make necessary improvements to your products and/or services.
How do you think social media affects business interactions with customers? Leave your opinion in the comments below.
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