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The Biggest Social Media Challenges for Contact Centers in 2013

The integration of social media into the contact center can be frightening. With customers now very much in control of how a brand is portrayed online, demand is growing and the importance of getting it right is self-evident.

When businesses ignore or disappoint a customer online, 23% will apparently respond purely for vengeance. In highly competitive industries, the best course of action is usually to actively respond to social media mentions and ensure that any negative experience turns into a positive. When you consider that consumers will spend 21% more with a company and tell on average 42 people about a positive customer service experience, the need to integrate social into customer service moves beyond reputation management into the realm of marketing.

Sadly, doing it is easier said than done. Getting a contact center set up and ready to respond on social brings with it many challenges. With this in mind, social customer service tool, Sentiment, has put together a rather useful infographic (below) which outlines some of the biggest challenges contact centers face.

Protecting your investment in legacy systems

Over the last three years there has been a communication shift. Consumers now have a variety of different ways in which they connect with a brand, one in three social media users now prefer social care over contacting a brand using a phone. Those who actively make the move towards a multi-channel approach will therefore be in a far better position to build relationships with a much wider range of customers.

Justifing the expense of integrating social media

Costs associated with moving to a multichannel approach often deter contact centres. The cost of attracting new customers is far greater than that of retaining the ones you already have. One way of keeping customers keep them is to ensure you provide an exceptional service experience. Social customer service also helps to aleviate call volumes and can assist in building deeper and more meaningful relationships.

Integrating social media with your other channels

Consumers tend to go where it is most convenient for them, so offering service on multiple channels makes a lot of sense. Consumers also use different channels to complain depending on their motive – as the infographic highlights. Note that for vengeance, customers go where they will get the most reach – i.e. social networks – and some have gone to extreme measures to ensure they are heard. Remeber the British Airways passenger who paid $1000 for a promoted tweet?

Scaling up your social customer service provision

It’s worth remembering that social customer service currently accounts for just 5-10% of overall service provision. But this is a figure which is increasing each month and brands need to plan their budgets accordingly.

Some stats which are highlighted here:

  • Companies are spending the equivalent of just 2% of their marketing budget on actively maintaining relationships with excisitng customers
  • In the UK, companies deemed to have poor customer service are losing approximately 12billion a year

Although social media still remains with many Marketing and PR functions, social customer service is a trend set to continue to grow for 2014. The need to be able to effectively and seamlessly integrate these channels into the contact center will be pivotal.

Ensuring buy-in from your staff (or clients’ staff)

This is probably one of the biggest challenges and the most important to get right.

“As multiple communication channels develop for the customer contact center, consistency will be paramount. The experience must be the same from channel to channel," says Shep Hyken. "Anything less erodes confidence and destroys customer loyalty.”

The difference here with this new way of communication is that it is no longer private. Businesses need to ensure that agents have the right skills and abilities to be able to move from channel to channel and still provide exceptional customer service. ‘Soft skills’  are extrememly important and the skills set required increases when social media is integrated. Sentiment has highlighted just some of the skills required (challenge 7).

Understanding how to measure social customer service performance

In a real time environment, like social media, response times are important but the quality of the response is equally important. Ronan Gillen from eBay highlights this very well:

“Expectations are HIGH. Customers want a response within the hour, or immediately. Sometimes you just need to let them know you’re working on it. Even if you don’t have the answer to hand right away, the customer appreciates it”

The infographic also highlights the kinds of metrics which can be tracked and measured to prove that your investment in social service is worth it. These aren’t always the same as for other service channels. For example, you might measure positive mentions by individuals after they have been engaged with via social media. Results can also be measured in more traditional methods, of course, such as changes in sentiment or NPS (Net Promoter Score).

These are just the highlights I’ve picked out. Whether you’re just starting out in social customer service or a seasoned contact center veteran, it might just be worth printing this infographic out and posting it next to your screen.