Customer Service: Can Social Media Replace the Contact Centre?

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July 7, 2012

If you believe the hype, social media is taking over the world. It’s the Internet’s version of a water cooler, online store, billboard, and concert hall, but is the hype true?  Well, not everyone enjoys using social media – for some people, the privacy concerns and usability issues are just too great.  However, few people like using traditional contact centre services; perhaps social media could solve the problems of confusing IVR menus, poorly trained contact agents, and long hold times.

Social Media Tech is Already in Place

Many companies have tried to invest in high tech support options; after all they have SIP trunking in their offices, and an IT team on hand, so why not use that tech to offer more options to consumers?  Well, one reason is that proprietary tech rarely works as well as the designer wants it to – at least in its first incarnation.

Not all consumers are tech savvy, and if you provide online contact centre services that aren’t completely intuitive, you’ll end up with people that need support to help them learn how to use the support tools.

Social media is ubiquitous.  Almost everyone knows how to use Facebook and Twitter, and there are a lot of people that reach out to companies for support via those networks already.  If your customers are sending messages to your Twitter account asking the person behind it to help them understand their bill, why not answer them?

The Consumers Have Spoken

It makes sense to talk to consumers through the channels that they have already chosen.  You can still use your SIP trunking for video calls and online live chats if you want, but why waste the contact points that are already in place?

By allowing people to contact you through social media, you aren’t just improving your tech support options – you’re also building your brand.  Remember that when someone talks to your company via social media, that interaction is visible to all of their friends.  If they see you providing timely, polite and helpful responses, that will boost their image of your brand.

Options are Essential

If you do decide to embrace social media, make sure that it’s in addition to your existing contact centre services, rather than as a replacement for them. There are a lot of people that do not want to use Facebook and other social media sites because they are concerned about their privacy. If you force social media on those customers as the only way that they can access or interact with your brand, there’s a good chance that they’ll immediately start looking for alternatives to your brand.

Right now, social media isn’t the most popular support channel, but it is one of the most rapidly growing ones.  Ignoring the significance of social media could seriously damage your brand.  Even if you decide not to promote social media as an option, it’s a good idea to have someone watching your brand image online.

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