Magazine article CRM Magazine

Use Social Media Proactively: Leveraging Sites like Facebook and Twitter Is Critical

Magazine article CRM Magazine

Use Social Media Proactively: Leveraging Sites like Facebook and Twitter Is Critical

Article excerpt

YOU'VE TRIED to avoid it, but more and more customers are using it, and you have no choice but to deal with it. The "IT" is not your old foe, the information technology group; rather, it is social media, a phenomenon that profoundly influences the future of customer service. Continuing to ignore it is futile and could eventually cost you your job.

Social media is wonderfully compelling for companies seeking to know what their customers are thinking. (It's even better if a company can figure out how to incorporate this information into their product, sales, and marketing plans.) It's an unrestricted and unstructured set of communication channels that people use to share ideas openly and freely. In addition, social media provides a form of collaboration that companies only dreamt about years ago. But now that it's here, it's scary because companies have no control over how it's used and what people say.

Currently, risk mitigation and damage control are the primary customer service applications of social media. This is a high-value use, as people are writing about your company, like it or not. But public and private institutions should go beyond the basics of performing social media monitoring and find ways proactively to use it to their advantage. Organizations should harness social media, including Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, discussion boards, reviews, and their own blog, to broadcast their corporate thoughts, ideas, differentiators, and product information, in the same way that many public figures are using it to increase their personal influence. If an actor can use Twitter to build interest in an upcoming movie, why shouldn't public and private institutions use it to enhance their servicing image? Of course, the institution should make only those claims that it can support.

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Here are recommendations for addressing social media:

1. Contact center leaders should stop waiting to be told what to do and build their own social media strategy. Involve savvy agents in their 20s who "live" online to learn what you need to do. The strategy should address every channel in which you want your service organization or contact center to be known, but it should at least include Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, bulletin boards, and your own blog. …

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