Social is here to stay. And now that the question of whether businesses should be using social media to engage with their customers has been answered, companies still face the vexing challenge of how to integrate social into their customer contact strategy.
A few statistics drive home the urgency of finding answers in the short term:
44 percent. That’s the percentage of global Web traffic that visits Facebook on a daily basis.
845 million. The current number of registered users on Facebook. It’s only a matter of time before it hits the one-billion mark; imagine having access to one-seventh of the world population through a single platform.
$4.27 billion. The total revenues for Facebook in 2011, of which $3.8 billion was generated from advertising. In advance of its impending IPO, Facebook is in the midst of revamping its advertising platform to give companies new ways to reach customers.
As companies spend more resources to engage with customers through Facebook, it’s fair to assume that customers will start to expect that the conversation should work both ways: that is, if companies can push products more aggressively on Facebook, then customers can use this same channel for customer service.
The main problem is that once one company figures out a way to interact effectively with customers through this channel, consumers will expect all companies to do so. It hardly seems fair, but welcome to the next-generation consumer.
As your business considers how to integrate Facebook into its customer experience strategy, you should assess your organization’s capabilities across three areas:
Current customer contact platform—If you have unified important call center functions to give agents the tools to interact with customers across a number of channels, then it’s an incremental step to add social. If not, you have to crawl before you walk, and that means enhancing your platform first.
Integration of internal functions—One of the challenges of social media is that it spans marketing, sales, communications, and the contact center. We’ve discussed the need to tear down the walls within your company to enable collaboration among these departments. If just one department takes ownership without involving the others, companies won’t capture the full value of social.
Customer experience strategy—The majority of customers will call the contact center as a last resort after exhausting other options. Facebook is set to become an even more dynamic source of company and product information as well as customer feedback. Understanding how Facebook can complement existing efforts can help companies prepare their contact center agents to deliver better service.
Since companies don’t have unlimited resources, how can they be effective across forums, self-service, FAQs, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other emerging channels? The answer can vary significantly by industry and type of company. For instance, an airline — for which customer service is an integral part of business strategy and operations — is going to take a different approach than a professional services firm or hospital would. However, as customer service becomes an even more integral part of business strategy, it’s imperative to figure out the right mix for your company.
If you hear a rumble in the distance, it’s Facebook coming down the rails and picking up speed. The good news is that your company still has a little time to prepare so you can jump on for the ride and avoid getting steamrolled.
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