by Lotta Lundstrom, Regional Marketing Manager, Teleopti

Today’s connected consumers are the ones driving the revolution in retailing. With the ever-expanding array of communication and social media platforms at their disposal, allowing them to research and shop anytime and anywhere, they often end up spending more than intended.

However, with this retail revolution also comes new expectations and potential drawbacks. For instance, businesses are now increasingly expected to provide instant customer servicing. Organizations that fail to live up to this expectation are shooting themselves in the foot.

Furthermore, social media networking sites are easily used by less-than-satisfied customers to rapidly and publicly vent their frustrations, potentially sending viral shock waves around the world and resulting in lost business and worse, a tainted reputation.

Despite this unfavorable use of social media by customers, many organizations are still slow to face up to the realities of the rapidly expanding digital world. Studies carried out by social media analytics and publishing company Socialbakers¹ claim that the overall response to social media inquiries is just 55 percent. On Twitter, the global average is a mere 32 percent. Even organizations that do use social media are sluggish, typically taking almost 6 hours to reply to Twitter inquiries and over 13 hours (!) to Facebook inquiries.

Automation – the way to go!
The increase in social media inquiries coming into the contact center can be overwhelming. However, state-of-the-art automated workforce management (WFM) solutions² can combat this with flexible scheduling and real-time data extraction so as to be able to make meaningful service adjustments, such as re-allocating the right agents to omni-channel inquiries. The results of automation have also proven to save organizations substantial time and money as well as boost agent engagement, productivity and service delivery.

Step up to social media challenge – so much more than technology
Contact-center managers should take a total approach to customer interaction by providing their staff with efficient processes and effective technology. Here are some great tips that will help you get going on an omni-channel approach to customer servicing:

  • Create joined-up approach to social media – Social media may already be used throughout the organization: sales and customer service may handle product inquiries and order requests while marketing monitors Facebook and Twitter for customer feedback. Make sure you have strategy in place for handling customer contact via social media. Who in the organization should be handling it? Will that communication be transparent and in-line with your corporate messaging?
  • Be prepared by forecasting social media When you begin forecasting social media, you probably have no historical statistics to rely on. Start observing patterns and acquiring knowledge: how do customers act and in which social media channels are they active? Furthermore, use automated WFM to build flexibility and scalability into your staffing plans.
  • Use overtime as a last resort Flexible scheduling decreases the need for overtime and often saves on costs considerably. When intraday changes are needed, make sure your WFM solution has its notification tools up and running that can assign – in near real-time – available and appropriately skilled agents.
  • Take age before beauty – You’ve heard it all before: having the right people with the right skills³ at the right time is essential for effective social customer servicing. However, don’t fall into the trap of only hiring students or young people to handle social media inquiries: It’s often more time-efficient and cost-effective to train existing contact center staff with well-honed customer service skills and in-depth knowledge of your organization’s products. Social media can be learned in a matter of weeks; gaining in-depth product knowledge and service experience takes much longer. Your WFM solution should be able to identify individual agent skill-gaps and automatically schedule coaching to target these gaps and improve performance.
  • Provide the right training and make learning fun! – Training agents* to handle multiple channels is fundamental to serving the needs of modern omni-channel consumers.

What’s more, learning has been made fun today with the latest gamification techniques that promote employee engagement. Agent groups, for example win points or badges via online games. To improve personal performance, individuals can even compete against themselves.

Ultimately, being able to make adjustments throughout the day makes for a much more agile frontline workforce that is better equipped to deliver an excellent customer experience, at a lower cost – whatever the channel.