The dangers of using traditional customer service software for social media

By Joshua March,  CEO and Co-founder of Conversocial

Gartner talks about the contact center shifting to become a ‘customer engagement center’. In today’s world, service must be where the customer is — social, and mobile — and reflect the new reality: these platforms are very different. Yes, they’re important service channels; but also an important source of positive engagement and conversations with customers, a place to engage proactively, get product feedback, and drive recommendations and sales.

In the traditional contact center, a customer is forced to get in touch how and when the company wants. Phone, email, chat — they all follow the same basic core principles, all owned and controlled by the company. These channels are designed exclusively for service and nothing else. Private, 1:1 conversations between agent and customer (or, IVR/bot and customer) fit cleanly into distinct tickets.

But customers have rebelled. They are on their smartphone, they are on Facebook, they are on Twitter. They want to reach out when they need help, not when you tell them too. They want to use the channels they are most comfortable with on a smartphone. And they will be heard, and will complain publicly and voraciously if you ignore them. 25% of 18-29yr olds will now use social as the first channel to complain, before phone and email.

These new platforms come from a completely different place than traditional channels.

The social customer has chosen third party platforms, not owned by the contact center. Platforms that can change rapidly. Platforms that can be chaotic: a mix of public and private, with conversations flowing between both (and not cleanly arranged into tickets). Multiple people engaging in the same conversation. And conversations that range from general chit-chat to product feedback, questions, or in-depth service issues that require an urgent response. The same platform can be real-time like chat, or asynchronous like email. And consumers have an almost real-time expectation of a response.

Trying to force these new engagement channels into traditional contact center workflow, processes and technology (as almost all the traditional contact center vendors have tried to do) is destined to fail.

The social media solution from one of the biggest enterprise contact center vendors simply takes social messages, turns them into emails, and then puts them into their standard email workflow. Most others do essentially the same, but not in name. Regardless of anything else, this model only works if there is one customer message, and one agent response. But what kind of real service issue does that apply to?

Real service conversations will have multiple back and forth messages (especially on Twitter, where the character restrictions make this necessary to give much detail), with a conversation starting publicly, then often going to private DMs. On a platform that only deal with 1 message at a time, these messages could end up with different agents, all seeing just a small bit of the whole conversation (like the parable of a group of blind men trying to describe an elephant…). It’s impossible to deliver real customer service performance metrics; you don’t know what the volume of issues you’ve had (as the numbers will be distorted by the same issue going across different messages); you can’t measure average handling time (as you don’t know how long it takes to deal with an issue, only a message), or first response time (as you don’t know which message was first in the conversation…). In short, you end up with highly inefficient process, a lack of management tools, and — worst of all — a terrible customer experience.

And that’s not even getting into what happens when a social network changes their API, and your legacy vendor (who has no relationship with the social networks, so didn’t realize it was coming) has to wait 3 months for their next release before it can be fixed.

So, as the dominant engagement model moves away from being company controlled to being customer controlled, be careful about trying to bend the new reality into old, tired paradigms. If you want to deliver an amazing customer experience on their terms, while still retaining high efficiency, you need the platforms and processes to match.

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WhySatisfy is dedicated to providing brands with the technology, training and support to take control of their digital interactions with customers. We believe that a brand’s responsibility to their customers is more than the one-way provision of a product or service. It is the fulfillment of their desires, expectations, needs or demands. This is why brands satisfy their customers. And this is why we exist.

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