Can you remember the first time you ever used a contact centre? It seemed revolutionary at the time that you could ring a company directly and talk to them. Before the telephone revolution, brands expected you to write a letter, which might receive a reply within 28 days – if you were lucky.
Now companies engage with their customers in a much more multi-layered and complex way with voice, email, and instant messaging all mixing together as various opportunities for consumers to reach out to a company.
But now social media is here and changing the nature of the conversation.
Some have argued that it is difficult to integrate social media platforms into the customer service experience because the tools themselves are always changing – who uses myspace or bebo anymore? But the demise of some of these networks has led to a few winners that are clearly going to be around for some time to come and are worth exploring.
Over 700 million people globally are active on Facebook, that’s not over half a billion accounts; it is active users of the site. And it took Twitter 3 years to notch up a billion tweets, but now there are a billion of them every week!
So there are some tools that people have really bought into – they are becoming used in daily life and even more so as web access goes mobile and uses the geo-location capabilities of modern smartphones.
The other big factor in how all of this is changing the customer care strategy for brands is that everything is inverted – it used to be that a customer would call a company for help or advice, now they post a message on Facebook or Twitter. Customers having trouble with a broadband connection are less inclined to sit on a phone trawling through a complex IVR – they just post a Twitter message saying how terrible their Internet provider is.
It’s now important for companies wanting to offer an intelligent customer care programme to monitor the online world, to see what their customers are saying, and to engage directly – reach out to customers having trouble – so problems can be fixed and complainers become satisfied customers. They can even be converted into brand advocates, telling their friends about how your company fixed their problem without them ever having to call – on Twitter.