Social call

Social media is the domain of the contact centre.


Social media is the domain of the contact centre.

Read time 3min 40sec

People have come to enjoy the freedom offered by social media in a way that could not have been anticipated. Social media today exceeds even e-mail as an online activity, and it is one of the most popular forms of communication ever.

All one has to do is think of Skype, Gtalk, Hotmail, Yahoo, Gmail, Facebook, Snaptu, Twitter, iPad, iPhone, Kindle, Groupon, iTunes and the vast array of other online applications and other devices that appear seemingly daily to grasp the veracity of this.

This has particular relevance in the world of convergence, where the lines have blurred between one form of communication and another. And all of this has particular relevance for the contact centre.

A long way

As was reported on 23 June 2011, Telkom has introduced the lowest cost broadband service in South Africa. 8ta's service comes in at 2c/MB, as opposed to R50/MB when untethered Internet access was first announced a decade or so ago.

This is a game changer. It makes online access seamless, whether users are running on 3G, HSDPA or ADSL (many areas simply cannot do ADSL any more due to copper cable theft).

Now people who may have thought twice about accessing the Web via their mobile devices will browse as freely as they choose. The average Facebook user, and there are 750 million of them, spends 34 hours a month on the platform, as opposed to an average 40-hour work week.

Twitter has become the most powerful mechanism for people to use to engage with target markets. The ability to follow or 'unfollow' on an opt-in-opt-out basis, and to supplement traditional marketing channels with this, has changed the way people communicate with each other.

Already social media is pass'e.

Andrew Holden is MD of Bytes Connect.

Telecommunications convergence is a disruptive technology, and disruptive technologies are what change the world for good, and in totally unpredictable ways. Already social media is pass'e. There are far greater disruptions coming, and the ability of mobile technology platforms to mimic or exceed the power of desktops and notebooks is a driving force.

Where (costly) computers, radio, TV and telecoms were distinct, discrete services, each with their own support platform, that has changed to the extent that it is often impossible to see the dividing lines.

It is incumbent on executives to examine the business opportunities this represents.

Many executives still see Twitter and Facebook, for instance, as time wasters, and they have a point. But resistance to any technology advance has tended to isolate those who are branded as Luddites.

Opportunity knocking

There are huge opportunities in the world of contact centre and broader telecommunications for both customers and service and solution providers.

The contact centre is and always should be the place where customers are able to interact through their medium of choice.

If this medium is Twitter or Facebook, that's the way it will be, in time. Customers naturally gravitate towards the path of least resistance, and where that was once the telephone, it is now e-mail, and social media.

There is another good reason that social media belongs in the domain of the contact centre. All forms of contact logically belong in the domain of the contact centre, and secondly, unhappy experiences need to be recorded, consolidated and dealt with through this single channel.

Thirdly, people reflect their unhappiness with companies through social media in a way that they do not through other media. This makes it incumbent on contact centre managers and their executives to be able to track comments, aggregate them, deal with the negative implications and resolve them.

Sites such as Hello Peter have become famous for their ability to help customers resolve issues. Social media has augmented this role, and today people tell their friends readily about customer experiences through social media.

Each contact centre is unique, and each corporate strategy is unique. What is common among them is the need for the contact centre to assume responsibility over the next few years for social media interactions. Someone must take responsibility for all customer touch-points, and the contact centre is it.

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