Call Center Expectations in the Age of Social Media

In today's digital era, customers expect to be able to reach companies anytime—and from anywhere. Eighty-nine percent of participants in a recent customer preference study indicated, in fact, that they wanted choices for how they could contact companies, and 79 percent were frustrated with their available customer support options, according to a survey by HeyWire Business.

Research from Five9, The International Customer Management Institute (ICMI), and American Express shows that social media is emerging as not only an important communications channel for customers, but also as a competitive differentiator for companies. Nearly half (48 percent) of consumers use social media to praise a company for great customer service, offering organizations that embrace social support an opportunity to stand apart from their peers. What's more, more than a third (38 percent) of companies feel they will lose customers if they don't offer social support options.

So how do companies adapt their call centers to include this new form of customer service? Here's a look at three key ways:

Investment in agents

One of the primary reasons consumers turn to social media for customer service queries and concerns is that it's a channel that's available 24 hours a day. With the majority of customers now expecting real-time customer support, companies need to be ready to respond accordingly (particularly considering that customers are often quick to draw negative attention to companies via tweets, Facebook updates, etc.).

In order to provide a better service experience for customers, it's critical for call centers to find ways to elevate agent engagement. Speech analytics solutions can provide performance insights and agent satisfaction metrics that call center supervisors can then share with agents to motivate them to improve their performance. It's also important for managers to grow and manage agent teams by offering ongoing training opportunities that can make agents feel both satisfied with their jobs and committed to their customers.

Multichannel adoption

Aside from improving agent performance, speech analytics technologies can also help companies develop an omnichannel approach to customer service to help them reach customers no matter which channel they choose to use. According to Mashable, two-thirds of customers have already used social media for customer service issues, so it's important for call center staff to be equipped with the appropriate customer service responses for this channel in particular, in addition to others.

By adopting a 360-degree view of the customer, call centers can both determine how customers prefer to communicate and unify the customer experience across channels. By not doing so, companies run the risk of making customers repeat information they may have already provided to different agents, which can prove damaging to the overall customer experience.

Technology integration

While 68 percent of companies say social is a necessary service channel, most companies don't feel they have the right resources or tools in place to support customers via social media, according to Five9's and ICMI's research. Specifically, companies face challenges providing accurate reporting and analytics (80 percent), integrating social with CRM (73 percent), and arming agents with tools to quickly and effectively solve problems (63 percent).

However, with roughly two-thirds of all customer service interactions performed in the cloud (according to Gartner estimates), it's critical to overcome these challenges to uncover insights about customer needs and preferences. "By having your call center representatives on social media and in the areas your customers are, they can collect information about what customers are talking about when it comes to complaints, praises, and product wishes," says Erica Bell, a small business writer who focuses on call center software solutions and social media trends.

Technologies such as multichannel analytics, delivered as a cloud-based or on-premises call center monitoring solution, can immediately reveal insights from automated analysis of communications between agents and customers across multiple channels, including social, phone, email, live chat, and more.

Final Thoughts

In today's digital era, where social media posts and updates spread like wildfire, it's critical for call centers to be where their customers are. By providing customer service via social channels, companies can get a sense of customer preferences and behaviors and determine how to craft responses to comments and queries accordingly. How is your company adapting older (and perhaps outdated) operating processes to include this new form of customer service?