Social networks like Xing, Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn are no longer used just in private. Corporations resort to the new media in order to provide information on their products, report on new developments and establish new contacts with potential clients. Social Media has even found its way into call and service centers, albeit with hesitant use for the time being. That’s not least due to questions that need to be answered and technical barrieres that have to be removed before the smooth implementation and use of new channels can be effected.

Source: Forsa

First of all it should be clarified which channels you want to use for the communication with your customers. The world of social networks is huge. Do you want the agents to just read and answer customer communication on Facebook or should they also make us of Stayfriends, Twitter, Google+, XING and other channels for the interaction with customers? If, for instance, blog entries are required and forums need to be controlled, the labor input of the agents is considerably higher than the exclusive use of Facebook or Xing. Thus, before considering a new solution or the upgrading of the existing equipment, you need to decide on the road you want to take for your journey. This is not only expedient for economic aspects but also necessary for the technical implementation. After all, every social network has a different accessions with whom it can be operated. In this context, it is important to keep in mind that we’re living in a rapidly changing world. Search engine giant Google, for example, started its social network Google+ only in 2011, thereby however acquiring – according to the Forsa survey by Bitkom – a market share of 6% after only a short time.

Implementation
The implementation in service centers requires a central spot where the different communication channels (video, chat, phone, etc.) are available for the forwarding to agents/groups once a call comes in. Conventional solutions often seem to have difficulties in this regard. Also, the coupling of those solutions with additional modules can become a complicated system that’s difficult to operate and requires high administration efforts.

An easier way would be to install a new contact center solution that handles a multitude of channels. First providers are already available. For instance, Altitude (www.altitude.com) features a contact center solution that integrates Skype and Facebook. Various other suppliers are, too, placing new systems on the market, e.g. Cisco (www.cisco.com) with the Social Miner – a solution for campaigns and monitoring of the social networks used. Also, Avaya (www.avaya.com), with the newest version of their Aura Contact Center, allows agents not only to communicate with customers by means of the traditional channels but also to interact with them via Facebook and Twitter. In addition, many other solutions are currently taking root in the market. Many of those providers you get to meet at the next Call Center World in Berlin. Make use of the guided tours led by experts on Social Media or Unified Communications who will see you through the flock of suppliers.

Telephone system versus All-in-One
For many contact centers it proves expedient to make a step toward a communication solution based on VoIP and retire the old telephone installations. New systems are more suitable when it comes to integrating the required channels into updated versions. In contrast to older systems, the integration of new channels is also by hindsight or even in ongoing operations possible without extravagant expenses, so the agents can directly access the new channels.

Conclusion
As usual it is necessary to first take a close look on the tasks that still need to be concluded in order to subsequently find the right solution with the required help of experts. You will also find several examples in our current pocket boock “PRAXISTIPPS Kundenkommunikation” which is offered free of charge at various trade fairs and purchasable in bookstores. Because at the moment providers strongly differ from each other in terms of services and products, it is important to examine the entire project, if needed with an external consultant. For one thing is evident: None of the new solutions are a bargain, however, they offer a better and faster working via all required contact channels.
Check list:
Using social networks in contact centers

1. Which channels do you want to make use of?
2. Do you want to include video?
3. Can you upgrade your existing system or do you need to purchase a new one?
4. Would a new system be expandable?
5. How many and what references does the provider of the new system have?
6. Are there cutting points with automation of processes?

X