The social contact centre could justify a social media strategy

Sometimes my wife accuses me of getting a bit over excited about all things cloud and social media. Individually they are generating massive amounts of interest and really changing the way that businesses engage with their customers and staff. But when I get really excited is when both of these ideas come together.

Over the weekend I loved watching a series of short videos produced by Salesforce.com talking about the Social Contact Centre and how a Service Director could build the justification for a Social Media strategy in their business.

Salesforce.com have spent 10 years redefining Sales Force Automation. But the Contact Centre market is much bigger, and the change is going to happen much quicker. Your customers don’t dictate what SFA system you use. But they absolutely will dictate what Contact Centre systems you use – because if you don’t listen to them you will lose clients to those that do.

I’ve posted before that Customer Support today is no longer about sitting and waiting for the phone to ring. It is about getting out there and engaging in conversations with your customers on the sites that they already use, and providing them with answers before they have really asked the question.

If I have a problem with a service or product my first stop is search.twitter.com. I know it is bang up to the minute, and if there is a problem someone will be talking about it. Next stop is Google to see what forums or knowledge bases I can find.

I will do everything I possibly can before picking up the telephone because I want to support myself. Consider my reaction when I am in a shop looking for something and my wife says “Why don’t you ask someone?” – an outrageous suggestion!

How do you know when your clients start to tick another box?

Why I get so excited about this concept is that so few businesses are even close to nailing this down. Many business leaders are still trying to understand what Social Media is, and whether Facebook and Twitter should be blocked at the firewall. They see Cloud as a ‘technology’ and not a business enabler.

As I watched these videos the adrenalin was pumping, because this is the way things have to be for businesses in under 24 months. And yet most businesses still think Customer Support involves a desk of agents, an on-site PBX to direct calls, and then sit and wait….

I’m also really excited that NewVoiceMedia slots perfectly into the Social Contact Centre by making sure that when a customer does call you, once they have exhausted all other routes, they get to the right person first time – perhaps the agent they were having a Twitter chat with, or the specialist team that deals with the product they have. Fewer calls, supported with much higher service and accuracy. Happy clients, happy agents.

I’d encourage you to have a look at Salesforce.com’s Social Customer Service site and watch the three videos. Not only are they really well made, but I hope you get as excited about a Cloud/Social combination as I do!

There is a huge opportunity for Salesforce implementation partners to build a competency around the Service Cloud and drive the Contact Centre revolution forward. Customers need trusted advisors that can help them reduce average wait times, call handling times and improve agent and client satisfaction. The cloud is absolutely the right way to go about this.

Do you engage with your clients on Social Networks? Have you integrated Social into your contact centre? What happens when someone tweets #yourbrand #fail

Charlie Cowan inspires and enables partners at NewVoiceMedia, a Salesforce Appexchange partner routing inbound calls based on CRM data. Unusually for someone in the IT industry, Charlie holds a degree in Rural Land Management from The Royal Agricultural College. He lives and works in Cirencester, Gloucestershire, with his wife and three children.