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Social Media and the Call Center – A New Role

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Not long ago marketers and their agencies were exclusively in a push mode when it came to their advertising and marketing campaigns. Their programs were designed to push out information and offers to consumers. Often there were one size fits all themes to their campaigns. A single advertisement ran in all markets as diverse as New York, Detroit, Dallas, Orlando, and Los Angeles with goal of enticing all consumers in those markets to buy.

My how the world is changing! Marketers are now getting onboard with the notion of active engagement with their consumers. Brands are creating two-way communications between themselves and customers, and in some cases, facilitating three-way communications allowing customers to communicate with each other.

Consumers are demanding relevant and genuine dialogs with companies. The marketing approach where offers and ads are pushed to consumers will probably never go away, however more marketing dollars are being spent each year on creating two-way engagements with consumers.

So what’s does this have to do with a call center. We say everything! Call centers are evolving to become the communications hub for brands. Not only do they deliver and manage inbound and outbound calls, they also deliver email services, live chat, website responses, and now social media monitoring and engagement. A modern call center should have the technology infrastructure, reporting capabilities, analytics, and people power in place to support social media engagement on behalf of their clients. It’s a natural extension of their customer support suite of services.

It’s probably impossible for a VP of Marketing, their Advertising and PR agencies to monitor the social conversations occurring about their brand over the social web. There are potentially thousands of Facebook comments, Tweets, Product Reviews, Product and Service Ratings, Youtube videos, and Blog postings flying around that go unnoticed. Some of these comments are positive and some are not. Just Google social “media problems” “airlines “pizza” or “hotels” and scroll down. You can pick almost any industry!

Social Media is more than another customer support or communications channel. It a way for brands to actively engage with their customers around themes relevant to their customers. This is where call centers can play a pivotal role in a Social Media Customer Support strategy.

A call center can deploy the tools to monitor a brand’s most important social web interactions, integrate these conversations with CRM systems, and provide insights to Marketing and PR teams. This monitoring can help you and your call center to join the conversation in ways relevant to your consumers. Not with the goal of controlling the conversation but rather with the goal of providing genuine relevancy.

If you’re delivering online Social Media Promotions, Contests, and Sweepstakes, it’s a 99.9999% certainty your entries will need moderating before being accepted to assure the content and comments are appropriate for your program. Your call center partner could certainly provide the moderation services based on your guidelines and do so on a 24/7/365 basis until your program ends, and longer if you leave the site up for awhile – a strong recommendation.

We’ve had the experience where a rock band running a fan contest allowed every comment and every photo added to their online contest – Zero Moderation! Most brands should never attempt this!

Monitoring

Utilizing both human skills and technology tools your call center partner could scourer social sites relevant to your brand and “listen” to the conversations. Based on algorithms created by you and your call center, comments could be analyzed for their points of view, perceived emotion, and relevance to the brand. Comments containing key phrases or words can be flagged for response. And because call centers are generally multilingual, these conversations can be monitored nationally and internationally.

Moderation – Not Total Exclusion

The volume of social media communication is huge. With more than 200 million Tweets per day, 3.2 billion Facebook Likes and Comments, and 3 billion Youtube views per day, most brands could use a communications partner to add order to this free-for-all! A call center can position its resources to monitor and moderate social web communities important to your brand. These communities could be brand specific communities created by a brand for specific consumer groups, relevant blogs, online contest, promotions, sweepstakes, live chat, website engagements, online events, and more! Moderation to assure inappropriate content isn’t displayed but not eliminating all negative comments.

Relevant Genuine Engagement

With guidance, your call center partner can be position to understand how and when to engage with your consumers. Your call center partner can help you to create a procedural guide that assists them and your internal teams to know who, how, when, and where to respond and engage. If the guidelines are agreeable to your brand and to your call center partner, your call center can deliver the consumer engagement for you and track and report on the results. It’s a natural extension of the services they already deliver. Your call center should be a seamless expression of you!

Social Web Analytics

The social web offers a wide array of interactions to measure and track. Your call center partner should tailor your programs to track the information important to your brand. Of course things change so there should be flexibility on how they support you from a business insights and consumer response perspective. If your key performance indicators change, the services offered by your call center should change to reflect these changes.
The social web has opened new opportunities to engage with consumers in very relevant business building ways. Your call center partner can be you key to tapping into opportunities presented by the social web.