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Social media, the ultimate communication channel

In the second of a four-part article series, Shama Kabani and Jennifer Wilson share their insights on various social media topics, broken down by alphabet. This week they take a look at social media, from F to K.

In order to truly comprehend the power of social media, it’s important to grasp the basics and then understand how each affects the contact centre. To get started, remember the alphabet….

(F) Follow-Up

Kabani: Do not let social media mentions fall through the cracks. Being aware of what is being said is just part of the initiative. You must in turn be available to respond and communicate with those customers who choose to leverage the social channel. Consumers want to feel loved, so give them that attention; this acknowledgement may give birth to one of your most ardent and influential brand ambassadors.

Wilson: Finding ways to automate follow up through the contact centre is key. With the ability to route social interactions to queues based on skills, availability, and priority, these interactions are treated like all other forms of communication. Ensure they are not overlooked by monitoring and routing social media interactions into the contact centre just like you do with voice, emails and chats.

(G) Guidelines

Kabani: Writing and implementing a company social media policy is integral to a smooth operation. Be aware of regulations for sharing information, holding contests, crediting sources, linking to others, etc. In addition, have guidelines and standards for replying back to posts, whether negative or positive. Aligning these guidelines with your other media-related guidelines is where the contact centre’s coordination and integration elements come in handy.

Wilson: Guidelines are crucial to establishing customer service successfully using social media. Responding to blogs, tweets and posts is different than responding to calls, emails and chats. Therefore, you must have well-written guidelines that are proven and easy to follow by any customer service rep you put in charge of handling social media. Additionally, guidelines should document when and how to respond to customers, when to escalate to a voice conversations, what KPIs will be monitored and how to track them.

(H) Honesty

Kabani: Social media gives brands a chance to present themselves as human. Consumers have greater respect for a brand that admits when it is wrong, answers all of consumers’ questions, and is upfront and honest with all policies and activity.

Wilson: Honesty needs to be handled differently in the world of Social Media. Why? Because Social Media can be broadcast to the world whereas a phone conversation is between your agent and your customer only. Therefore, when an agent admits over the phone to the customer that the product is defective or that the company did not provide good service, he/she does so in confidence that it is going no further. However, having an agent admitting the same over Twitter or Facebook can have major repercussions. Therefore, while you need to continue honesty in the world of Social Media, do so by escalating the conversation with that customer, and suggesting you discuss it over the phone.

(I) Integration

Kabani: When planning your social media strategy you cannot ignore your response methods. Think of ways to integrate social media into your existing business applications to help streamline these efforts. CRM applications and communications platforms are the best place to start. Keeping track of customer information and interaction history can be key when deciding how to best communicate with the customer…that sometimes being the social channel.

Wilson: Communication platform integration can start with pulling social media into the contact centre and treating it like any other interaction. There are multiple social monitoring tools that crawl social pages looking for keywords in posts. These sites can send notifications of keyword spots that include the post, as well as the sentiment used, the influence of the person writing the post, and the source of the post. By integrating these social tools into the contact centre’s social interactions are seamlessly brought into an agents queue. By leveraging the contact centre’s skills-based routing, prioritisation, and central location, monitoring that social space is like any other medium. The agent just simply replies to the interaction, the post is promoted to the social site, and metrics are available for interaction tracking and reporting.

(J) Join

Kabani: Maintaining a strong social presence is key. Join discussion groups, causes, and organisations online to show that you are involved and truly care. As an active member, encourage participation of your customers and reward them for input. Do not hesitate to follow your followers and become a part of the social community. It is a great way to stay connected, be aware, and show interest in what others have to say.

Wilson: Companies tend to focus in on the inbound communications that take place in the contact centre. However, outbound correspondence and blasts via email, SMS, and social media channels are also on the increase. Leveraging the contact centre to communicate proactively to the customer base can be a great way to expand the use of your agents and technology in a more non-traditional way.

(K) Kudos

Kabani: Sometimes we focus so much on the importance of social media monitoring to intercept negative comments about a product or brand that we forget to applaud the positive comments. We must remember to use social media tools in order to give ‘shout-outs ,’ or praise and recognition, to customers and partners. This reinforcement keeps customers happy and commenting in your favour. Likewise, giving kudos to major influencers in your specific industry can lead to them promoting your brand and/or to their audience responding favorably to your message.

Wilson: Companies tend to focus in on the inbound communications that take place in the contact centre. However, outbound correspondence and blasts via email, SMS, and social media channels are also on the increase. Leveraging the contact centre to communicate proactively to the customer base can be a great way to expand the use of your agents and technology in a more non-traditional way.

– Shama Kabani is the CEO of The Marketing Zen Group, a digital marketing agency. Her insight into the social media space is based on her experiences working one-on-one with customers to implement social media strategies for their businesses. Jennifer Wilson is a product manager at Interactive Intelligence focusing in on the social media strategies for the contact centre specifically. The overall concepts that both authors share help to outline some basic guidelines for implementing a social strategy, while leveraging the contact centre to better manage these social initiatives.

To read the first article in the series, click here.