Should retailers fear AI or is it now essential?
For a long time, I have talked about artificial intelligence as an enabling tool that should help to improve the customer experience. It’s a...
In life there will always be winners and losers, those who embrace change and those who have to be dragged kicking and screaming towards it. Historically, call centres have relied on the telephone as their preferred method of customer engagement and interaction and it’s been the main source of influence on brand awareness and customer satisfaction: how last century.
Fast forward to 2012 and the phenomenal rise of social media, and have a look at recent figures. According to a study by Fishburn Hedges & Echo Research, a staggering 65% of consumers now believe that social media is a far better way to communicate with businesses rather than through the traditional call centre routes on offer.
Sure, everyone’s starting to take notice, but too few are engaging properly with social media outside of global giants like Avaya (Link), which has recently introduced mobile and social features into their software.
So why use social media in a call centre? Consumers are spending 22% of their time on social sites, and are becoming increasingly vocal online about their day-to-day life, including their experiences with call centres. A website set up by Fonolo – onholdwith.com – pulls live tweets from customers who are complaining they’re “stuck on hold” as a way of amplifying the need for businesses to become more aware of social as a viable contact method.
It’s important to remember that we live in a multichannel age, and it’s fast becoming the norm for consumers to expect companies to engage with them on their chosen platform of communication first time round. So it seems reasonable to acknowledge that, according to recent research, 62% of consumers have used social media for customer service issues (Zendesk).
This change in consumer behaviour making online or social the first point of contact before resorting to phoning is already great news for call centres and their clients. It could potentially make huge in-roads into lowering call volumes by dealing with the most common queries through social used in combination with an online knowledge base.
Another contributing factor to consumer’s high levels of service expectation is smartphone adoption. There are approximately 5 billion mobile phones in the world, 1.08 billion of which are smartphones. Surely the convenience of posting on a Facebook page, or sending a tweet, outweighs the rigmarole of IVR and waiting in a queue?
Astonishingly though, only 29% of complaints on Twitter were responded to, but reassuringly 83% of complaints on Facebook are liked when a business responds expediently. This clearly demonstrates that increasingly social media savvy consumers are demanding a superior service niftily delivered and to the touch point of their choice.
Social media shouldn’t have the industry quaking in its boots and it categorically doesn’t spell the end for call centres. It is already proven that they can work symbiotically.
Social networks can be used to schedule call backs with customers to resolve difficult or complex issues, whereas simple private messaging can be used to resolve less complex issues. Another way to optimise service would be to use SM as a broadcast platform, for instance, to inform and update customers on say a system outage. Businesses should be embracing these online interactions and transforming them into a positive experience for their customer base and a cost saving exercise for their clients, rather than adopting a nervous twitch at the thought of change.