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One Simple Way to Boost Agent Utilization: Social Media Customer Service

There’s a new way to get an even better return on your investment in dedicated agents at your outsourced contact center.

The percentage of each working hour an agent spends interacting with customers is called utilization, and it’s a key indicator of the value you’re getting from your contact center. The higher the utilization, the greater the value. Typically, even the most efficient contact center teams experience between 15 and 35 minutes of downtime in any given hour. During that downtime, agents on your account aren’t answering calls, responding to emails, or engaging customers in online chats, even though you’re being charged for a full hour of their time.

Reasons for the downtime and for variations in the volume of customer calls and emails include such unavoidable circumstances and events as seasonal demand patterns, recalls and crisis management, customer response to promotions, new product introductions and more.

So no matter how carefully you forecast demand and staff your account with dedicated agents, a certain amount of downtime is inevitable. Given that, how can you turn downtime into productive time and increase the value you get from your contact center?

The answer is social media customer care.


Engaging customers via social media

Customers talk online about your company and its products via Twitter, Facebook pages, review sites, forums, blogs and elsewhere. Monitoring that social media conversation, and more importantly, responding to it, has become essential for protecting and promoting your brand. An ingenious way to do that—and boost agent utilization—is to enable your contact center staff to use downtime to respond to customers online. When not occupied answering phone calls and emails, dedicated agents can respond to social media posts. Because online posts are not as high a priority as calls and emails, agents can respond during downtime, thereby increasing utilization and delivering a greater return on your contact center dollar.

In addition to responding to posts that mention your company by name and that require a customer care response, agents can proactively search out posts that relate to your company or its products and respond directly to a customer. This “social search-and-respond” function is more marketing than customer service and can promote the brand, convert new customers, and effectively cross-sell and upsell.

By adding social media customer care to the services your contact center provides, you’ll be extending a superior level of brand care to a channel where customers feel most comfortable, namely, social media. In addition, you’re giving your agents a chance to use their brand knowledge to interact with customers in a channel they use even when not at work and know well.

Implementing social media customer care

Implementing a social media customer care program is quicker and simpler than you may think. You do need to set up templates for responses, spell out which posts deserve a response, and make sure your call center platform enables social media interaction and reporting. Once that’s done, your agents—who already understand and speak your brand fluently—can easily transition to serving customers in the public space of social media. Agents delivering social media customer care enjoy the informal style of this new communication channel, value the ability to think through a response before posting, and benefit from reading the online conversation around the brand.

If you’d like to increase agent utilization on your account and engage with customers in social media, where the most active brand conversations are taking place, speak with your contact center about how to get started. At Global Response, we’re always open to finding new ways to deliver outstanding customer care and improve the customer experience for all the clients we serve.

This blog was originally posted on December 17, 2012 on The Global Response blog.

Phillip Crowe is Social Media Director at Global Response, the brand care contact center. He provides a consultative approach to set up social media monitoring, management, and customer service programs for enterprise brands. Phillip graduated from Florida State University with a Master’s in Integrated Marketing Communications. Contact Phillip at [email protected] to learn more.