The role that social media plays in today’s business world is gaining more ground with each passing day, making it crucial for companies to manage their online presence proactively and virtually in real-time.
But to get it right, the strategy should encompass staff trained to provide expert customer service, backed by appropriate software to help keep track of all platforms, especially Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and online communities that provide companies the most direct connections with their customers.
“Our perspective on social media is that it’s still very new, even though its been around for years,” said Bryan Sheppeck, senior vice president of Aspect Social, a firm dedicated to building customer-company relationships through a combination of customer contact software and workforce optimization.
“However, it’s a very dynamic space right now and there are a number of tools that have come out to help companies manage their social media interactions,” he said.
Most companies today monitor social media conversations on marketing campaigns or promotions on the social web, sometimes responding to them but, more often ignoring them.
But as customers increasingly turn to social networks for customer service response and interaction, organizations need to embrace social media as a vital, two-way channel that can amplify their ability to deliver a differentiated customer experience.
“We see companies doing one of two things right now when it comes to social media. They’re either relying on social media as part of marketing campaigns to keep their finger on the pulse of what customers are saying about their brands and measure general trends,” Sheppeck said.
“The other is set more along the line of emotion and campaigning via social media; running a contest, a survey or a poll or promoting events or activities or news, using it as an extension of public relations handled by a marketing department,” the executive said.
Aspect Social comes in to provide software that effectively addresses a growing trend among customers who use social media as their preferred method of engagement with their favorite companies or brands, with trained staff capable of providing good customer service.
Ideally, that service should come from a company’s customer contact center, where personnel is trained to respond to issues over the phone.
“What we have developed with Aspect Social is a product, a software tool, to help brands and enterprises establish the connections that they’ve made in contact centers and offer rapid responses that are accurate because it becomes a function of all the training given to agents,” Sheppeck said. “By incorporating social media management into contact centers, you essentially ensure that they’re giving high quality responses and getting things right the first time.”
Ideally, companies will use this type of software to respond to customers via the same channel through which it was received, said Sheppeck, who was on the island recently meeting with current and potential Aspect Social customers.
“I believe that the vast majority of companies will ultimately have social response capabilities in place. Puerto Rico companies are not the exception,” he said. “Typically, Aspect Social is for any company with a contact center, be it hospitality, government, utilities and banking.”