Here is an interesting current event that I would like to comment on, recently I saw that a local BPO here in the DFW area

I love my job

was accused of ‘forcing” their contact center employees to go onto a chat room designed for call center employees and talk about how much they like their jobs and they love the company and its culture.  I find this interesting because I believe that these types of complaints may occur more frequently as employees are asked to engage in social media strategies.  Let me explain.

 

As I have mentioned before social media is a new tool to the organization and as such, we have to learn how to use it.  As the first, primary and sometimes only customer touch point for most organizations, the call center is the obvious choice for taking charge of and carrying out an enterprise’s social media strategy.  But in order for that to happen a few things need to be in place first;

1. Company Policies

2. Training

3. Integration into the call center through tools

Company Policies:

Your employees are already social networking with other employees, friends and customers and if left unchecked, could impact your company’s reputation (both in a good or bad way).  So if your company is not ahead of this yet from a policy perspective, I suggest you get ahead of it quickly by releasing the corporate policies on social media to your employee groups.

Training:

As we all know, in a call center, training never stops.  Train on the corporate policies created above as well as other important topics related to social media use such as Media Literacy, Privacy, Copyright, “Terms of Use” etc.  BUT most importantly, train your call center employees specifically on how to be good corporate ambassadors.  A good corporate ambassador is nothing other than an enthusiastic, engaged staff member functioning as an evangelist.

Getting back to where I started this post, I suggest that this is where the DFW Company mentioned above was when these accusations surfaced.  I hope that this company was simply encouraging employees to begin their training as corporate ambassadors.

For all companies, now, more than ever, contact center employees must be trained to deliver stellar service and positive customer experiences if the company wants to compete.  Why? Because if they don’t their customer’s will be online telling the world that they didn’t. Look at this quote from Chuck Ganapathi from salesforce.com.

“The rules of customer service are being rewritten,” says Chuck Ganapathi, vice president of marketing for on-demand CRM application provider salesforce.com. “Web 2.0 consumers, who have become accustomed to the instant access and gratification of the Internet, now expect the same level of speed and ease in their customer service interactions. They trust their social networks, and they look to their peers online for information and advice. An unhappy customer has the power to destroy a company’s brand with a single click.”

I would be remiss if I did not mention that frequently the Social Ambassador role is broken into two elements: One, the Social Media Manager role that is more outward bound in its focus, but still involves the community.  And two, the Community Manager role which is more inward bound, starting with the community, perhaps through more of a service or support focus.

Integration into the call center through tools

1. Conduct social media monitoring and analysis. Social media-wise organizations have invested in one (or more) of the many tools that scan the Web’s most influential consumer sites and social networks and “listen” to what customers – as well as would-be customers – are saying about the organization’s brand in general, its specifics products, and its level of customer service. Forward thinking organizations also use these powerful monitoring tools to stay abreast of what’s being said in the blogosphere and social media communities about their competition.

2. Offer an interactive, company-hosted social network for customers. The most progressive and customer-centric organizations do more than just scan the Web for customer-generated feedback on their products and services; they host their own “Social” communities that invites such feedback and enable customers to review and rate products and services, comment on the company in general and/or on the support received online, and interact with and share perspectives with one another. Such site would enable the company to provide key information – and to respond to customer comments or criticism via blogs and wikis of its own.

Because these customer portals are created and overseen internally by the company, managers in key areas within the organization (the contact center, Marketing, Product & Development) easily gain visibility into what customers think, prefer and demand, says salesforce.com’s Ganapathi. “By creating these compelling online experiences and being part of the conversation with the community, companies can build greater customer loyalty.”

3. Integrate into CRM. Information gathered from social media sites should be incorporated into the contact center’s customer history

4. Take it offline. Not all customer issues and concerns should be handled publicly. Develop guidelines to help agents determine when they should extend an invitation for customers to interact one-on-one via email, chat or phone.

Some vendors are experimenting with applications and tools that are intended to help customers contact the call center directly via social media sites. For instance, Avaya has a Facephone prototype (an overview video here) , which enables customers to contact a call center via a Facebook page and be connected to an agent. The agent can query the Facebook page of the caller prior to taking the call to gain some insight into what the caller’s issue may be……how cool is that?

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