Beyond Voice: Reaching Out to Your Customers via Social Media

Four best practices for integrating social media into the enterprise communications mix.

By VoipPlanet.com Staff | Posted Nov 8, 2010
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In a study commissioned by Siemens Enterprise Communications last summer (see our coverage here), the Yankee Group found that while about 70 percent of individual consumers want to communicate by social media, fewer than 30 percent of companies are equipped to do so.

Seventy percent of consumers surveyed want to be able to leverage social media sites to see real-time availability of company experts in areas such as technical support and billing.

Moreover, enterprise employees say social networking would help them, too. For instance, 69 percent would like to be able to initiate a Web conference automatically from a chat discussion.

In spite of its potential advantages, though, the integration of social networking has some potential pitfalls.

The following list of DO's and DON'Ts should serve as a primer for those looking to take advantage of enhanced customer communications through social media.

DON’T: Assume customers won’t notice your absence in social media channels

DO: Keep current as communication channels evolve - Customer contact channels never stand still...neither should you! A recent Yankee Group study revealed that 70 percent of consumers want to be able to leverage social media sites to see real-time availability of company experts in technical support, billing, etc. Customers are searching for you online, so be readily available. - Being present with new media not only gives you the opportunity to serve customers where they are congregating and communicating, but being early or first in your industry allows you to differentiate yourself on customer service and accessibility.

DON’T: Miss out on conversations with your customers

DO: Identify where your customers are communicating on social media, and target relevant corporate or public outlets for monitoring - Take advantage of powerful automated tools that monitor, filter and notify of customer, stakeholder and prospect activity on social networks or community sites - The filtering criteria can be customized based on your objectives and highly tailored to your business needs. The same Yankee Group survey uncovered that 67 percent of employees need more tools to track and manage their social communications for business purposes.

DON’T: Cripple your contact center by keeping communications methods siloed

DO: Leverage the effectiveness and efficiencies of your Contact Center via integration - Leverage the skills, resources and processes by integrating key social media outlets with your contact center technologies, tools and processes. - As volumes grow, using ad hoc methods or dedicated personnel may be inefficient and ineffective. Better to build in social media tools from the beginning and allow them to become part of how you do business.

DON’T: Let employees’ social media usage become a liability for your business

DO: Train employees on the subtleties of effective social media interactions - Social media interaction is somewhat different than e-mail, voice, or face-to-face. Remember, social media conversations are usually in the public domain! Enforce company social media guidelines and keep employees educated. - Often it can be wise and effective to move and morph a social media dialog into a richer and/or more private medium (e.g. voice, e-mail, chat, etc). Communication that begins in a social networking forum should be moved to phone or e-mail for ongoing conversations.

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