Opinion

Social media capabilities remain a major CX differentiator

Many outsourcing executives today question what contact channels need to be prioritized. It is a valid concern.  While there is a plethora of choices, nobody should dismiss social media.  Today, this channel pervades society, and its commercial application is significant. This should not be discounted by either BPOs or their clients as a way of improving the customer experience.  Providing support by way of a hashtag or the ’@’ symbol has never been so important, but it is wrought with challenges for those with limited experience. Thus, offering a contemporary response for enterprises that are hungry to satisfy their social network savvy consumers is a winner in 2020 and beyond.

It is hard to imagine a world without social media as a backdrop.  After all, according to some estimates almost half of the population uses social media on a daily basis.  And, social networks are no longer the sole domain of youth, as is so commonly thought. Rather, the proportion of those in the US that use at least one social media site 50 years or older is estimated to be roughly 7-in-10, not that far behind the 9-in-10 that are under the age of 30.  These channels are omnipresent in all aspects of peoples’ lives, including how they behave as consumers.  And this has not been lost on enterprises.

Consider that the recently-released Ryan Strategic Advisory Front-Office Omnibus BPO Survey of 540 contact center buyers in Western Europe, Australia and North America showed that social media is now the second-most deployed channel in captive customer experience operations.  Among enterprises using social media as a contact medium, there is an expectation that demand for these services will be among the fastest growing in the non-voice category.  Thus, having the right solutions to support the various social networks is critical for BPOs.

Clearly vertical differences are factors that have weighed heavily over the course of the recent COVID19 pandemic.  Organizations from some sectors, including the government, travel & tourism and health care, have seen marked spikes in their social media traffic. Effective responses have required highly-skilled agents working alongside automated solutions in order to handle the increased volumes.  And, given the sensitivity of the circumstances many are currently facing, these interactions need to be robust when done across different social networks.  Therefore, managing KPIs as rigorously as possible cannot be understated in the third-party context.

It also means finding the right people.  It is clear that the profile of a social media agent is distinct. Individuals who are passionate ambassadors for the brands that they represent are ideal.  Thus, identifying not only the right candidates for social media support, but equally the best sources from which to hire these individuals needs to be carefully thought out.

Then there is what is on offer. Outsourced social media management must be more than just supporting queries.  Instead, outsourcers need to come to the table with a thorough solution that certainly provides front-line interactions, but one that also handles forum management / moderation and active listening across networks.  This is where the right investments in analytics is invaluable, in terms of identifying potential red flags.  So too is finding the right automated support tools, at least at the outset of any social media interaction.  With expected volumes of consumer queries anticipated to grow across social networks, leveraging the best automation available to manage flows needs to be a BPO priority, both from a cost management angle and to ensure consumer satisfaction.

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