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Proactive Customer Service Empowered by Social Media

Proactive Customer Service Empowered by Social Media

You’ve tried to ignore it and avoid it, but a growing number of your customers are using it, and you have no choice but to deal with it. The “IT” is not your old foe, the information technology group – but social media, a phenomenon that profoundly impacts the future of customer service. Continuing to ignore it is futile and could eventually result in losing your job.

Social media is wonderfully compelling for companies that want to know what their customers are thinking. (It’s even better if a company can figure out how to incorporate this information into their product, sales and marketing plans.) It’s an unrestricted and unstructured set of communication channels that people use to share their thoughts and ideas openly and freely. It also provides a form of collaboration that companies only dreamt about years ago. But now that it’s here, it’s scary, as companies have absolutely no control over how it’s used and what people say.

Risk mitigation and damage control are currently the primary customer service uses of social media. This is a high-value use, as people are writing about your company, like it not. But public and private institutions should go beyond the basics of performing social media monitoring and find ways to proactively use it to their advantage. Organizations should harness social media, including Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, discussion boards, reviews, and their own blog, to broadcast their corporate thoughts, ideas, differentiators and product information, in the same way that many public figures are using it to increase their personal influence. If an actor can use Twitter to build interest in an upcoming movie, why shouldn’t public and private institutions use it as a means of enhancing their servicing image? Of course, the institution should only make claims that they can support.

Here are DMG’s recommendations for addressing social media:

  1. Contact center leaders should stop waiting to be told what to do and build their own social media strategy. Involve savvy agents in their 20’s who “live” online to learn what you need to do. The strategy should address every channel in which you want your service organization or contact center to be known, but should at least include Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, bulletin boards and your own blog.
  2. Contact center leaders should set up their own twitter account and strive to become a Twitter personality. The goal is to make it easy for the public to find your service organization. (Doing it on your own as the leader of customer service may help you avoid a conflict with marketing, who believe that they “own” social media – which they don’t.)
  3. Staff the social media channels with the same service level goals as your phones, or nearly as quick. I know this is unheard of, but people who use social media expect immediate responses. If they do not get instant gratification, the situation can escalate rapidly and very publicly. If you’re going to build a presence, you may as well do it right.
  4. Monitor social media channels 24×7 so you can react quickly to an attack and mitigate the damage.
  5. Be proactive. Don’t wait for people to contact you or to complain about your service organization. Watch the trends and build a strong following; this will give you defenders when, your organization is are attacked.
  6. Keep Legal out of it. Adhere to corporate social media guidelines. Learn all of the right “dos and don’ts.” And, if you’re not sure how to write something, check with Legal. But, if Legal reviews everything you write, you will sound stilted and your responses will be so delayed that they will have little value.
  7. Integrate the insights from social media into your contact center or servicing organization. If your customers are kind enough to identify a service or performance issue via social media, FIX IT.

Within five years, social media is likely to be the primary customer interaction channel for many servicing environments. There is no point in waiting. If you have questions, please email me, or call me at 973-325-2954.

Ask the Experts

Is it beneficial to allow agents to bid for shifts? If yes, what are the benefits? I find it to be more administrative work within my workforce management (WFM) solution.

Giving agents the ability to bid for shifts empowers them and gives them some control over their professional schedules; they can plan ahead and select schedules that allow them to accommodate exceptions for things such as personal appointments, school meetings, etc. This flexibility has proven to contribute to their job satisfaction, which favorably impacts the quality of service they provide to callers. It’s also beneficial for supervisors, as they do not need to deal with creating exceptions to cover last-minute requests for time off.

Most WFM solutions have an automated shift-bidding module. When used properly, it should not result in additional administrative work. If your existing WFM solution does not have a shift-bidding feature or a self-service module, we strongly suggest that it’s time to look for a new solution that includes these features, as they will reduce the amount of time required to handle workforce management issues, while also improving agent and customer satisfaction.

DMG Consulting LLC is a leading independent research, advisory and consulting firm specializing in unified communications, contact centers, back-office and real-time analytics. Learn more at