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Updating Your Customer Access Strategy for Social Media

If your call center doesn't already have a central role in handling social media, it's only a matter of time. Though these initiatives often start out in marketing or elsewhere, the call center is, in fits and starts, increasingly becoming the engine organizations use to listen to, interact with and capture insight from social channels. (see related blog by Michael Pace)

To put effective services in place, you’ll need an updated customer access strategy. Here's a quick summary of each of the components:

1. Customers: Who are they, how do they choose to communicate, which sites do they predominantly use, where are they talking about your services, company, market and competitors?

2. Contact types: This component anticipates all of the major types of conversations that will occur, e.g., inquiries, orders, policies, support, feedback, etc.

3. Access alternatives: This step identifies traditional communication channels (telephone, email, chat, self-service, et al.) as well as new alternatives you want to join or create, for listening to and engaging with customers – e.g., blogs, rating sites, peer-to-peer communities, and key social sites (Facebook, Twitter, others).

4. Hours of response. Today’s customers are always on, always connected; how that impacts the approach you take in assigning resources depends on the nature and importance of the issues being discussed, and service and brand implications of providing timely input.

5. Service level objectives. As with hours of operation, your service level objectives should be driven by the gravity of the conversations taking place and the responsiveness appropriate to your brand and to your customers' expectations.

6. Routing. This is a long-used term that is as relevant as ever; think of automatic call distribution (ACD) capability for social media interactions. What tools and processes do you need to identify, prioritize, and deliver relevant customer conversations to the right agents?

7. Agents required. This component helps identify who will handle social interactions, how many you'll need based on anticipated workloads, how you will establish agent groups (Blended or Separate? New or existing?), and the tools and support they will need.

8. Information required. What information on customers, products and services will need to be accessible to agents and customers? What information should be captured?

9. Analysis and business unit collaboration. This step defines how you will capture and share information that can help improve the organization’s products, services and processes.

10. Guidelines for deploying new services. This step summarizes technology architecture, investment guidelines (how plans must be analyzed for returns, etc.) and other overarching considerations.

Developing a sound strategy is an important part of incorporating social media into your customer service operations – and thinking through each of these components will help provide direction on the decisions you need to make and resources you'll need to put in place.