Social Media Shaping a New Contact Center Paradigm

by Tim Dreyer on April 8th, 2009

Michael Sheridan, Executive VP, Worldwide SalesSince social media’s  birth, public relations and marketing professionals have been using it to gauge and help shape public perception of their companies. These days that’s just not enough.  Consumers are crying out for companies to use social media for much more.  In fact, according to a study conducted by Cone, a strategy and communications agency, 43 percent of consumers think that companies should use social media to solve their problems, while another 41 percent say that companies should embrace social media as a way to solicit feedback on products and services.

Whether you like it or not, social media is helping to shape a new paradigm for the contact center.  It’s about even more real-time, anytime, anywhere customer service than we’ve seen evolving over the past few years. Sure. This paradigm includes more traditional methods of communications, like phone and email. But, it also incorporates social monitoring and media – reactively and proactively responding to blogs and tweets.

Customer service organizations that haven’t begun planning or implementing their social media strategies should definitely get started.  There are companies out there that have already allocated people to the social media cause, and are seeing it pay off. I recently read a blog about a consumer who tweeted a Dell contact regarding an ongoing computer problem.  The Dell contact immediately responded to the consumer’s request, resolved the customer’s problem and probably earned his continued loyalty through social media.

Some companies are extremely proactive, using social media to “take the bull by the horns” so to speak, and turn bad situations around. If a consumer posts or tweets about a negative experience with your company or products, why not use your customer service department to mitigate the damage or change the outcome by reaching out online? Likewise, when a customer posts a negative comment about your competitor, what’s stopping you from swooping in, turning them on to your company as a viable alternative, and changing a bad experience with your competitor into a revenue generating opportunity for your company? Southwest Airlines for instance, has a whole social media team that responds in a personal way when someone posts an online complaint.

Forward-thinking companies like Dell, Southwest Airlines and Comcast provide great case studies for how to use social media to wow customers and improve their experiences. This is just the beginning. Moving forward, many more companies will integrate this function into their customer service organizations.

How is your company incorporating social media into your overall customer experience strategy?