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Contact Centers Can Optimize Opportunities Through Social Networking

June 11, 2009

Social networking at one time may have conjured up images of friends meeting up for Happy Hour and getting together for a barbeque in someone’s backyard. It is now so much more and it is going beyond mere social benefits.

Independent market analysis firm, Datamonitor, has noted that companies of all sizes are engaging customers and prospects on social networking services. While much of this activity has been pure marketing, some leading edge companies have started to offer customer service and support through social networking sites.
 
The firm’s new report ‘The Rise of Social Networking and Emerging Channels in Customer Service, encourages companies to start thinking of ways to connect their key customer service resource – the contact center – to social networks in order to maximize this opportunity.

As individuals construct elaborate online social networks, the exponentially expanding Web of connections leads to viral communications. This can be both good and bad as a customer’s uncommonly good experience with a company can be heard by thousands, but so can the bad. News about products and services can go viral very quickly.
 
“Given the boom in popularity of social networks, enterprises of all stripes have started to look for ways to market their brands to potential customers through these services, says Ian Jacobs, senior analyst for customer interaction technologies at Datamonitor and the report’s author, in a Thursday statement.
 
“Whether it is through online contests, coupon and discount offers or just an extended presence to shine positive light on brands, social networking has become a darling of the marketing world.”
 
The increased activity on these networks has also led to service interactions between companies and their customers. Some of these interactions are the result of direct contact from a customer to a company. Now, companies are also injecting themselves into customer conversations.
 
“When done properly, social network-based customer service interactions drive increased intimacy between company and customer,” said Jacobs. “Customers feel that the company listens to, understands and cares about their preferences.”

Datamonitor has identified that there is a clear opportunity for customer interaction technology providers to create solutions that provide scalability for these support operations by allowing formal contact center environments to handle some or all of these interactions.
 
“Social networks will not be a flash-in-the-pan craze and will not simply disappear or burn themselves out. Companies that choose to simply ignore this trend will relegate themselves to the outdated, fuddy-duddy camp—an important distinction depending on a company’s desired demographic—and more worryingly, maybe even to obsolescence.”

Companies can certainly maximize their customer services by taking advantage of available technologies and resources. It is however, important to have a strategy in place to ensure that the experience is a positive one and not the other way around.
 
 

Susan J. Campbell is a contributing editor for TMCnet and has also written for eastbiz.com. To read more of Susan’s articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Jessica Kostek

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