Social Media and the Contact Center: The Sum is Greater than the Parts

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The Need for Context

I recently read an article on cnn.com about a British economist, Noreena Hertz, who believes that social media can be “analyzed to predict real-world outcomes” and that “analyzing the chatter from Twitter and Facebook for example, will become a dominant force in the business of forecasting.” The article explains how Hertz believes that if you can identify the sentiment of the social media messages, versus just the numbers of messages and their subjects, the information becomes rich enough to be predictive.  Ms. Hertz points to the current flaw with social media mining – it is very difficult to correlate it with the actions of real people:

Under her school of thought, in order for social media mining to have any real value, we need to understand what people’s actions really mean.  “If someone tweets, ‘I like Coca-Cola’, does that mean that they’re actually going to buy Coca-Cola? One can?  Two cans? Three cans?  If they retweet someone else’s Tweet, does that mean they’re going to buy it?”

Ms. Hertz goes on to say, “[I]f we could improve upon sales forecasts by listening in on people’s chatter on Twitter, Facebook, those sorts of media, that would be a really exciting prospect.”

As interesting as this is, I couldn’t help but think that what is missing is how “traditional” communication methods, such as the call center, should be factored into business forecasting methodologies.  Calls into the contact center often contain that missing link between the trends that social media surfaces and the actions people are taking.  If a popular retailer advertises a sale, people may “like” the store to acquire the coupons, but many of them will place their order by picking up the phone.  If a company has done something to upset some customers, they complain via social media, but they call the contact center to resolve it (and in the process explain the problem in detail).  Contact center interactions can provide the context, the connection to action, which is needed in order for social media mining to have predictive value.

The Contact Center’s Crystal Ball

A savvy company will utilize all interactions at their disposal, and appreciate the interplay between them.  Social media is where the marketplace reacts, and by its very nature, Twitter, Facebook and other similar sites see reactions much more quickly than the contact center does.  An organization that wants to be prepared to best handle their customers uses social media as a guide to show them what may be coming.  That’s where Interaction Analytics comes into play.

Just about every company has a marketing department that is furiously analyzing social media, not just for posts that mention the company specifically, but also for trends in their industry.  Very rarely are those trends specific enough or quantified enough to be actionable.  The key is to compare those trends to the calls coming into the contact center and quantify their impact on the customer base and the business.  The context provided by the analysis of the interactions provides the linkage to action that can make the social media analysis relevant and even predictive.  Oftentimes what is a major issue on social media does not translate to customers picking up the phone.  But what if it does?  By using Interaction Analytics, companies are able to get ahead of the curve and quickly identify if their agents, business processes and systems such as the IVR are equipped to deal with calls.  More importantly, the business understands the root cause of why customers are calling, so that they can take corrective action to reduce the volume if necessary.

The Value Goes Both Ways

The contact center has been advocating for quite some time that the information contained in the interactions it captures has value that extends across the organization.  Jon Ezrine talked about it in this post.  Now it’s time for contact centers to admit they, too, can find value outside of themselves.  All that information marketing is collecting from the social media sphere?  It is a great predictor of what’s coming.  And a contact center that wants to provide the best customer experience can use Interaction Analytics to find out what trends are impacting their customers enough to make them pick up the phone so they can ensure they’re the most prepared to deliver the best possible solution.

Want to learn more? Download our latest white paper about leveraging trends in social media to optimize the contact center here.

Categories: Intro to Interaction Analytics