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How social media has changed customer care

Posted By: DSG


Adopt or die – companies should use a range of communication channels to meet the fast-evolving expectations of consumers, writes Yaron Assabi

Customer relationship management (CRM) is a concept that became very popular during the 1990s. It was created to help improve an organisation’s relationship with their customers, through the introduction of reliable processes, such as contact centres, which made interacting easy – at least in theory.

However, systems have had to evolve and adapt at a rapid pace with the enhancements of the internet because, while in the past conversations between a brand and customer were isolated and could be monitored, social media conversations between the company and customer are spread to channels like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn – giving customers the opportunity to share unfiltered experiences, that are often amplified by their network of connections.

The evolution of the contact centre
When contact centres were conceived, social media was not on the radar, and no provision was made for the technology and the changes it brought in business processes. This is in stark contrast to today’s ‘anywhere, anytime’ customer-focused environment, where a high-performance contact centre is more important than ever.

While business facilities have evolved from inbound call-oriented contact centres, to more interactive multi-channel centres, many businesses find themselves operating in a new environment with outdated legacy technology. The problem that lies here is that conversations are no longer limited to the traditional voice channels; instead, customers expect to engage with companies seamlessly across multiple channels like chat, mobile, video and social media.

The power of word-of-mouth
There is no doubt that social media has and will continue to have a huge impact on the future of the contact centre model. Businesses that choose to outsource their call centre should look for an Omni-channel solution which can manage social cloud conversations across the full sentiment spectrum.

” Research has found that customers who have used customer service via a social channel are willing to spend 21% more than those who haven’t used the platform”

This is vital – as after interacting with a business or service, a customer can immediately voice their frustrations or share their positive experiences with the click of a button, which needs to be monitored 24/7. The power of word-of-mouth has been heightened even more, and companies can lose business opportunities if they don’t regularly respond to their customers’ requests and comments on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, company blogs and Linked In.

Why implement social contact centres?
In the past, digital customer self-service was not as big in South Africa, because of the high cost and low penetration of broadband connectivity. However the advent of mobile broadband and smartphones is driving a massive growth in self-care. Before implementing a social Customer Relationship Management (CRM) strategy within a company, business owners need to understand customers, by collecting and analysing information. This relates to what your different customer segments are; which communication channels they prefer and what they want to communicate with you about on each channel.

Many businesses may find themselves asking if they can justify the expense of integrating social media into their CRM and Contact centre model. However, what they should in fact be asking, is how long they can afford to not have social media channels integrated into their contact centre – where research has found that customers who have used customer service via a social channel are willing to spend 21% more than those who haven’t used the platform.

The future
Organisations that fail to invest in transforming their contact centres into relationship platforms, capable of meeting the fast-evolving expectations of consumers, risk being left at a competitive disadvantage. Those who succeed will be the ones that can successfully integrate multimedia into a contact centre. With technology continuously evolving, companies and call centre providers need to be flexible and willing to adapt to changing market requirements. But, it is essential the multimedia approach be implemented sooner rather than later, as playing catch-up to newer technologies can prove to be a costly exercise down the line.