Contact Center Solutions Featured Article

Boosting the Customer Experience with a Social and Mobile Community

April 15, 2013

Once upon a time, “engaging” the customer was a pretty straightforward process. You hoped that marketing led to customers buying a product or service, and when they called your call center with questions, problems or comments, you had them “engaged,” so to speak. You could try and up sell or cross-sell them, but that’s about as far as it went.

The Internet and the proliferation of mobile devices have changed everything. By adding in a plethora of new channels, the customer relationship became way more complex. While managing customer relationships became exponentially more complex, new opportunities for savvy companies arose. The Internet and mobile apps today have created new ways to share and communicate in real-time, and this sharing isn’t only a one-way process from the customer to the company or vice versa. Customers today are more tech-savvy and more “social.” They expect companies to engage them and interact with them, which for the companies, presents an opportunity to provide a better customer experience at every touch point.

This, of course, requires a complete reconfiguration of the customer support structure. New technologies, call center personnel with different skills and a complete integration of all channels into a single customer experience are all necessary today.

“It's important to understand the kind of change that’s happened to the way people want to interact with each other and with companies, brought about by the ubiquitous hyper-connectivity created by the Internet and the subsequent growth of the social Web,” Michael Fauscette, group VP of IDC's Software Business Solutions told customer engagement solutions provider Get Satisfaction in a recent white paper. “With the consumerization of IT and the rise of the social Web, the way people interact online has changed dramatically and we see those expectations creating customers that want to interact with companies in a more personal, conversational way.”

In other words, customers expect more today, and companies must be willing to provide them with what they want if they seek to keep customer engagement and satisfaction high.  New customer engagement strategies must be all-encompassing, linking all possible communications channels, including social media, customer communities and mobile apps, and allowing call center personnel to see a 360-degree whole of the customer relationship.

“Customer communities” are a particularly important element of the mix. These communities are places where customers can get support information or learn answers to problems from one another. They benefit customers – peer-to-peer interaction gives customers confidence they’re getting real information and not marketing spin – and they benefit companies, as well.  These types of communities, done properly, can reduce the support workload on call centers and help desks and lower service costs.  They also add valuable “real world use” information to the company’s knowledge base.

These customer communities, however, cannot operate in a vacuum. They need robust management from inside the company to ensure that they remain useful, objective and user-friendly. Community managers may be tasked with looking at analytics, finding influencers, getting a jump on problems, and helping customers navigate and better understand how the social network environment works.

In the end, the goal is to build a multichannel, active community network that can benefit both customers and company knowledge workers in a number of ways. And anything that boosts the customer experience at the same time bringing down support costs is worth its weight in gold.

Find the full IDC/Get Satisfaction white paper here.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi