Should Social Media Replace the Call Center?

By Amanda Ciccatelli December 05, 2012

More and more consumers are using social media channels to share complaints and questions about products than ever before. But, is social media equipped to replace call centers as the primary channel for customer service?

“Consumers are communicating more than ever before through social media and growing accustomed to real-time responses from peers on Twitter, Facebook and peer-to-peer communities,” Justin Schuster, vice president of Product Marketing at Lithium Technologies, a provider of Social CRM, told TechZone360 in an exclusive interview. “They increasingly expect brands to respond in real-time to complaints and questions as well, and social customer care has rapidly emerged to address this gap.”

According to research by Nielsen and McKinsey, almost half of all social media users have turned to social channels to resolve customer service issues. Additionally, about 30 percent of social media users prefer contacting customer service through a social channel rather than by phone. However, last year, companies were ignoring 70 percent of customer complaints on Twitter.

“Consumers are turning to social media to resolve problems, but most companies are still lagging behind this evolution. This presents a real opportunity for leading brands to separate themselves from their competition,” explained Schuster.

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Lithium Technologies’ Social Web offers a solution to manage the customer service opportunities coming through social channels. The solution also offers tools to be sure brands are doing it right, offering real-time insights into the effectiveness and efficiency of workgroups.

“Consumers are looking for frictionless platforms for solving issues, and expect service agents to be as accessible as their smartphone apps,” he continued.

Social Web allows agents to deliver service on social channels like Twitter and Facebook– at scale.  First, Social Web takes data from social channels and applies filters, tags and workflow rules to route the service issue to the best resource.  Next, it ensures each post can be worked efficiently by pulling relevant information into a single view including conversation history, user profile, agent notes and suggested articles from a community. And finally, separate role-based dashboards for managers provide real-time insights into agent performance, so bottlenecks can be identified and addressed. 

Today, major brands are already turning to Lithium’s Social Web and experiencing successful results. For instance, in just a month, AT&T resolved over 21,000 customer issues; Best Buy realized more than $5 million in annual support savings and sales advocacy; AutoDesk has saved $6.8 million in support costs; and TomTom experienced $150,000 in support savings in one month.

In a recent Lithium-CMO Council social media survey, the company found that 47 percent of social customers expect a response to an online request within one hour. Ultimately, brands need the right tools and processes to meet these expectations in a scalable way.

Schuster said, “Customers tell us this we are the first social engagement platform they have seen that has truly been developed from the ground up for social customer care.”

DISH Network Senior Vice President John Swieringa recently told Schuster that Social Web has improved his company’s ability to provide superior customer service and, for the first time, given it access to detailed customer support metrics and analytics. DISH Network was even able to cut agent response time on social media channels and increase its Facebook and Twitter response rates to 100 percent.

Edited by Rachel Ramsey

TechZone360 Web Editor

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