Gone are the days when a customer calls a company or writes to complain.  They still write, but no longer to the CEO or some other board member of the organization.  They write to social media.

Customers still have complaints, like they always have. But their methods and how companies communicate back have changed significantly.  If organizations are not monitoring their brands on the litany of social media websites, a simple customer complaint can run viral, turning into a major public relations firestorm. 

A great example is when United Airlines baggage handlers tossed musician Dave Carroll’s beloved Taylor Guitar and refused to accept responsibility.  Carroll responded with the song “United Breaks Guitars,” which went viral overnight and now stands at 14,000,000 views on YouTube.

Shockingly, according to Social Media Examiner’s 2014 Social Media Marketing Industry Report, only one out of three marketers agrees they are able to measure their social media activities.  Marketers and customer service organizations must keep up with a lot.  Considering a sample of the various forms of social media, the task can be daunting.

For example:

  • Facebook
  • YouTube
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Instagram
  • Google+
  • Pinterest
  • Geo-location Sites (Foursquare)
  • Social Review Sites (i.e. Yelp)
  • Short-form Video (i.e. Vine)
  • Social Bookmarking (i.e. StumbleUpon/reddit)
  • Forms/Podcasts/Q&A sites/Message Boards

Any social media user has a “friend” who asks what product would you recommend for this?  Or how much should I be paying to use that?  Or, oh my, was that product great/terrible/unsightly/stinky/AhMazing/insert emoticon like smiley face or some derivative.

EVERYONE is talking and they’re talking about EVERYTHING.  We compare prices, express gratitude or grief, read news about some viral story, etc.

Getting it Right

A great example of a company who gets it right is Nike.  They have a Twitter handle dedicated to customer feedback and support @NikeSupport.  Currently they have 325K tweets and support users in seven languages.  They can respond instantly to someone who has a question, concern, complaint or the ever elusive compliment.

According to Deloitte’s, 2013 Global Contact Center Survey Results, contact center leaders expect social media (38%) to be one of the largest areas of growth.  While growth is an area widely seen, in the same survey, only 33% support social media as a customer interaction channel.

Can everyone have a presence like Nike?  No, but every organization can maintain an online presence across multiple social media channels and monitor them all using traditional call center agents.

What if a customer service agent could reply to a social media interaction the same way they do for a phone call?  Check.  What if a contact center agent could sit anywhere in the world as long as they have an Internet connection?  Check.  What if an organization could provide a seamless interface to their agents across all forms of social media?  Check.  And they could enjoy all of this without investing in infrastructure to roll out and support those users.  Check.

Everyone in and around IT is now dialed into cloud as a method of IT consumption (not always in a good way as seen with the recent hacking of iTunes.)  Contact center and specifically social media interaction is included, it can now be delivered as Software as a Service or SaaS.

According to Kate Leggett, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester Research for CRM and Customer Service, the organization’s data suggests that vendors_battle_for_the_heart_of_the_contact_center.  In fact, 67% of U.S. online consumers say they’ve had unsatisfactory service interactions in the past 12 months.

In order to serve consumers, companies need a variety of queuing and routing along with a litany of customer interface support software from different vendors.  When software is delivered as a service for these types of complex integrations, customers can focus on using the intelligence and multichannel view of interactions instead of enabling them.

CDW offers clients a wide array of solutions to fit business needs.  From premise-based solutions like Cisco’s SocialMiner, to as-a-service solutions like inContact and LiveOps, we are here to help.  With intuitive web-based user interfaces, multichannel queuing and response, agnostic telecom support and predictive pay-as-you-go pricing, we suggest customers take a look at all options including Cloud.

According to Forrester, Next generation “contact centers will evolve to become relationship platforms, with a focus on building personalized and collaborative customer interactions.” I urge all organizations to begin moving in that direction today.