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Engaging The Social Media Generation In The Contact Center

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People like to use the channels of communication that they feel the most comfortable with. Chances are, this sense of security is the result of years of experience on a particular platform. The generation that first grew up with landline telephone networks, for instance, probably felt a greater level of ease using this medium more frequently than their parents did.

The same goes primarily for the Millennial generation. Many young adults today first grew up with services like MySpace, which set the bar for all subsequent social media outlets. Now that sites like Facebook and Twitter have become increasingly commonplace as forms of connection, they are starting to be treated as serious communication channels - almost in the same way that voice and email have.

Social media is somewhat of an anomaly in the world of unified communications. Not only does it facilitate the sending and receiving of messages, but it can also serve as a source of information. People often get their news by following outlets through a singular client rather than checking out their websites individually, frequently sharing individual stories from a multitude of resources. The actions of users on social media end up creating leagues of data that can be tracked by companies and used to dictate marketing strategies and handle potential PR nightmares.

It is this kind of functionality that leads Credit Union Insight contributor Steven Holmes to believe that social media will be a major trend for contact centers in 2014.

"Companies are investing in social media to avoid bad public relations," he wrote. "Never in the history of business has there been a tool like social media that can impact the bottom line of a company due to the public airing of consumer opinions. Once seen as a cost of doing business, the contact center is now a significant factor in the public's shaping of your company's value."

The contact center makes up one of the most social aspects of the company. Because customer service representatives so often interact with the public, they end up shaping just as much of the company's image as advertisers and marketing executives do. There has to be a proper representation of the organization on every channel leveraged by its consumers. In an age where social media plays such an intrinsic part in culture and communications, call center software has to be integrated with the applications that make it accessible.

Social Engagement Critical For The Contact Center

Social media has become so much of a second nature for most people that they are expecting to use it everywhere. A business without a Facebook page, for example, could unknowingly be painting itself as outdated or slow to adopt new technologies. 

But it is about much more than just throwing up something for people to "like." There has to be reason to give pause or to purposely seek out a company through a social media service. Many people come to official accounts to either sing praise or publicly air grievances. This is why it is essential for business phone systems - rapidly becoming the epicenter of IP-based networks - to have social media capabilities. There has to be unity occurring between contact centers and those tasked with the general upkeep of, say, the organization's Pinterest account in order to unlock the true potential of this channel and others like it.

"Separation between the call center and social media teams tends towards two different implementations of customer relationship management (CRM) systems that focus on the engagement channels used for each group," wrote Midsize Insider contributor Jason Hannula. "When both teams are aligned, sharing a CRM with the ability to manage all engagement channels through a single portal becomes a system requirement. While the separate systems may be easier to maintain and support by separate IT teams, this lack of integration can cause technical issues downstream."

Opinions On Social Media Need To Change For Success To Occur

Social media has a bad reputation. Many view it as a diversion, a distraction or just as a waste of time. But there is so much that can be accomplished with these services on an enterprise level that cannot be ignored. Facebook, Twitter and others are becoming standard forms of communication, customer engagement and brand management. As more tools are integrated into business phone service, it will be imperative for social media connections to be aligned in a similar manner.