Integrating social media into cross-channel customer relationships


Una giornata di pioggia e di sole
A week ago I was in Sanya, China, where I gave the guest keynote at the NICE Interactions 2011 conference.

NICE Systems’ history is in providing voice recording and analytics to companies with many customer interactions, such as banks and telcos, for customer services and security. From there it has morphed into providing a series of broad-based platforms to improve customer interactions across channels.

In the world of Customer Relationship Management, an increasingly important and now dominant issue is effectively managing relationships across channels. The critical ‘single customer view’ becomes more difficult yet ever more important as new channels such as chat, mobile apps, and a variety of social media are added to existing customer communication channels.

Organizational structures and legacy IT architecture mean that it is still often difficult to provide a single customer view across channels. These challenges are far more difficult when social media becomes part of the mix.

Some companies are already well down the track of engaging well in social media, by participating in major channels, having carefully selected and trained teams to engage online and respond to customer questions and complaints as they arise.

However it is far more difficult to integrate communication over social media channels than it is for other channels. Matching social media profiles to customer profiles is difficult to automate.

One of the biggest challenges emerging out of the emergence of social media as a customer interaction channel is how it sits relative to other channels. All other channels are private, while most social media interactions are public. This means that it is difficult to respond to individual questions or complaints, as others could mistakenly believe that the responses apply to them. As a result, many customer service responses on social media simply direct people to the appropriate call center or other direct channel.

Ideally call center staff will be aware of the social media interaction when the customer calls in. This requires either automated integration or some kind of manual way of linking social media profiles to the related customer data.

Clearly these issues are part of the broader space of Social CRM. There are now a range of vendors offering solutions in the space, including integrating specific social media activity with call center and CRM databases, as well as analyzing social media sentiment to provide a broader context for conversations.

Certainly, as customer communication channels proliferate, integration across these channels is required. Increasingly sophisticated vendor solutions are helping. However organizations need to establish clear processes and ways of working to allow customer support to tap the increasing use of social media by the community. The game is on.

Image credit: Eric Perrone