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Investing in Better Social Media Technology--It's Not a Matter Of If, But When

A conversation recently took place in our organization between the CEO and the Director Of Customer Service (Me).  Let me know if this sounds familiar.

Me: I think it’s about time for customer service to own the customer engagement and service element of our company’s social media activity.

CEO: Ok, but you had better make sure someone is constantly monitoring and responding to customers.  I don’t want to see any service failures go viral.

Me: Yeah, sure, no problem.

That’s roughly how the conversation went.  To give you a bit more background on the situation, we previously had a community manager who was essentially a middleman between customers and customer service.  It seemed only logical to empower an entire team of customer service professionals to monitor our social media activity, making it a more viable support channel for our customers to use.

As I highlighted in a recent post, it’s entirely possible for a small business to set up a system for monitoring social media activity in their call center without breaking the bank.  When you can count the sum total of your social media interactions with customers on any given week on two hands, this solution is perfect. 

As our company grows and our social media activity increases, I am accountable to ensure there are no social media disasters, that I effectively track and document social media interactions as I would any other support channel, and that I make sure the agents handling and monitoring social media activity are well utilized.  As I consider these things, here are a handful of factors I am closely monitoring.  I believe these will ultimately push us to invest in better technology for social media monitoring in the future.

Increased Customer Engagement
At Phone.com we followed the lead of many other companies and created a separate customer service feed on Twitter.  Slowly but surely we are seeing an increase in the number of customer interactions.  While Hootsuite is perfect for our team of 3-5 agents to handle ten tweets per week, as we start to increase that volume tenfold, you can see where we begin to run the risk of a service failure.  Additional technology might allow for better integration with our CRM and better tracking of customer satisfaction for these interactions.
Increased Agent Time
An increase in customer engagement via social media means an increase in the amount of time contact center agents need to spend monitoring and responding.  With that comes the need to monitor service levels and the amount of time agents are spending on social media support versus other support channels.  The metrics a contact center solution can provide are going to become more and more critical.

Increased Spam
As our social channels become more popular, so will spam.  The last thing I want is for agent time to be eaten up sifting through junk as they look for actionable material.  A solution with spam filtering tools will need to be considered.

Increased Presence Beyond Twitter and Facebook
The social media land rush is not complete yet.  There are already tons of social media sites with more to come -- not to mention blogs and review sites.  Keeping tabs on what our customers are saying about us on all of these sites is nearly impossible.  A solution that is able to stay on top of this may very well be worth its weight in gold.

Finally, customer service via social media is a reality that growing small businesses simply cannot ignore.  While it’s easy to start monitoring now, it’s critical that we have one eye on the future.  Start searching for better solutions today to ensure you don’t miss a beat -- or a tweet -- tomorrow.

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