Social networking and the contact center

According to Datamonitor’s research, companies of all sizes have begun to engage customers and prospects on social networking services.

Much of that activity has been pure marketing, but some leading edge companies have started to offer customer service and support through social networking. This according to our new report has started companies thinking of ways to connect their key customer service resource – the contact center – to social networks.
Whether it is through online contests, coupon and discount offers or an extended presence to shine positive light on brands, social networking has become a darling of the marketing world.
Service interactions
The increased corporate presence on these networks has also led to service interactions between company and customer. Some result from a direct contact from a customer to a company (akin to a phone call into a contact center), but with new social media monitoring tools, companies have also begun to inject themselves into customer conversations.

If, for example, a customer complains to the world at large about poor service, the company being complained about can reach out to the customer and try to solve the issue.

Scale is an issue
All the customer service and support performed today through online social networks comes from social media specialists within companies, who are given the latitude required to understand the written and unwritten rules of social networking and can imbue the service interactions with personality.
However, this model cannot scale to meet the exponential growth which online social networking services are experiencing. Datamonitor believes there is an opportunity for customer interaction technology providers to create solutions that scale for these support operations, primarily by allowing formal contact center environments to handle some or all of these interactions.

There are, of course, numerous technological, business process and cultural hurdles to overcome before this model can gain a strong foothold in the enterprise market.
Social networks are not be a flash-in-the-pan and will not disappear or burn themselves out. Companies that choose to ignore this trend will relegate themselves to the outdated, fuddy-duddy camp – an important distinction depending on a company’s desired demographic – and even to obsolescence.