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Alphabet Soup: SM (Social Media)

Alphabet Soup – Sorting through the many "letters" of the contact center.

We started our Alphabet Soup series last month with CSAT (Customer Satisfaction). This month, the focus will be on the potential impact(s) of Social Media (SM) on your contact center. And we will do that by listing some questions that you, your teams and your organization can ask (and answer) to ensure that your organization is one that reaps the rewards of effectively handling these contacts vs. one of the customer service "fails" we have often witnessed via social media, video or elsewhere on the world wide web.

SM = Social Media

Noun plural but singular or plural in construction

Definition: forms of electronic communication (as Web sites for social networking and micro-blogging) through which users create online communities to share information, ideas, personal messages, and other content (as videos).

Source: Merriam-Webster

I’ve included a series of questions for you to consider later on in the article, however, before we head there I suspect some of you might be saying to yourselves at this point, "We don’t handle social media, another department does." or "Our company isn’t involved yet." If you are one of those folks, I ask you to read on anyway and consider the following statistics as a means to prepare for what appears to be the inevitable "future!"

Some current statistics and headlines:

1. Social media accounts for only 16% of customer engagement today, but is expected to increase to 57%—the second-most used channel, behind only face-to-face interaction—within five years (Marketing Pilgrim).

2. Twitter isn’t just for the birds anymore. According to recent social media research, Twitter now has more than 165 million users, and is attracting nearly a million new users each day. Twitterers collectively post a billion tweets every three days. 62% of the Fortune 500 companies have at least one Twitter account, and the average Fortune 100 firm maintains 10 separate Twitter handles to support different product lines, divisions, functional areas and geographic regions. (socialmediatoday.com).

3. 30% of the world’s entire population is now online, and social networking is the most popular and time consuming online activity—with users spending more than one fifth (22%) of their time engaging on social media channels. This means that more than 250 million tweets and 800 million Facebook status updates are now published every single day (MindJumpers).

Here are a few other interesting social media statistics for 2012 (via Digital Buzz Blog):


  • An average Facebook user has 130 friends and likes 80 pages
  • 56% of consumer say that they are more likely recommend a brand after becoming a fan
  • Each week on Facebook more than 3.5 billion pieces of content are shared


  • 34% of marketers have generated leads using Twitter
  • 55% of Twitter users access the platform via their mobile

General Social Media Statistics:

  • 30% of B2B marketers are spending millions of dollars each year on social media marketing
  • Nearly 30% of these users are not tracking the impact of this marketing
  • 20% of Google searches each day have never been searched for before
  • Out of the 6 billion people on the planet 4.8 billion have a mobile and only 4.2 billion own a toothbrush

Despite all this activity, it would appear that many corporations are still in the beginning phases of establishing or fully integrating these channels into their overall customer access strategies. This is reflected in some of the following:

1. 2nd Annual A.T. Kearney Social Media Study Finds Most Top Consumer Brands Still Not "Getting" Facebook.
38 out of 48 companies still have company-only or company-filtered Facebook walls; 27 out of 48 companies did not respond to a single customer reply; 94 Percent of companies land visitors on a one-way communication page.

2. Just 23% of Fortune 500 companies maintain an active blog, vs. 37% of Inc. 500 firms (V3 Integrated Marketing).

3. 35% of the top 100 Fortune 500 companies have a corporate blog compared to 14 percent of those Fortune 500 companies in the bottom 300-500 of the category, i.e., top companies devote more attention to their corporate blogs than those in the bottom of the pack (V3 Integrated Marketing).

4. 62% of Fortune 500 companies have an active Twitter account, while 58% maintain a corporate Facebook page (V3 Integrated Marketing).

5. Though 94% of corporations use social media in some way and 58% of executives acknowledge that social media is useful for lead generation and developing brand loyalty, 70% of CEOs have no presence on any social network. 26% are on LinkedIn, 8% have a Facebook page and just 4% use Twitter (Business Insider).

6. This is the case even though 82% of buyers say they are more likely to trust a company whose top executive is active on social media, and 81% of employees believe that social CEOs are better leaders (Business Insider).

Social Service Questions You Should Be Asking Your Organization

All that said, the following list of questions while not an exhaustive one, should give you a place to start as you begin or enhance your existing social media processes.

1. Is your organization currently handling contacts from social media channels?
2. If yes, where do they reside? (i.e., Marketing, Corporate executive’s office, public relations or the contact center?)
3. If you have reps handling these contacts, what skills are required to do so? Are they different than phone or other channel skills?
4. How did you select these reps? How are you training them?
5. What guidelines do you provide them wit? (Here is where Alphabet Soup comes in, and to a certain extent your company’s branding, strategy and customer base.) Do you allow your reps to use any of these social media acronyms and/or symbols in their responses to customers (internal or external)?
6. How do you Quality Monitor these interactions? Coach them?
7. What is your Service Level/Response Time for each channel?
8. What will your hours of operations for these channels be? What hours will you staff these channels for? (We know the channels they can come through on are 24/7. Will you staff them 24/7?)
9. How will you forecast, staff and schedule for these channels? Do you have the tools necessary to do so?
10. What other metrics will you utilize to measure performance in these channels?
11. What impact will these social channels have on existing communication channels?
12. What infrastructure is required to successfully handle social media contacts? Is it available and/or budgeted for?

For even more information on the Social media and the contact center, check out ICMI’s Guide to Serving Customers Socially.

We hope this helps you join or improve the conversation you are having with your customers!

Rose Polchin | Senior Consultant, ICMI

Read the complete Alphabet Soup series: Introduction | CSAT, Customer Loyalty and CSR | SM (Social Media)