Social media is one of the major trends expected to take up the business world in 2012. Its undeniably a tough phase that enterprises around the world are going through. A phase where there is mounting pressure to realign existing strategies and bring out new ones in an attempt to curtail costs and enhance productivity, in whatever way possible. Amidst these changes, social media strategies are increasingly finding their place in organizations' focus areas. More and more enterprises are going for it or at least seriously thinking about it. Experts say that some have already jumped into the scene, while rest are weighing the pros and cons associated with it. Andrew Kokes, Vice President, Global Product Management, Sitel, says, “Social media is in its initial stages. The challenge is lack of awareness. But we do see increased adoption this year.”
This poses the big question. Are enterprises fully ready to embrace social media. Reports and expert views suggest that some percentage has already made the move and a significant number is considering the move.
What is driving the change? Social interactions are on the rise, like never before. It has vested on the customer a power that they never had. Believe it or not, the power of social media is huge. Organizations are thus concerned about what is being said about them and also want to be a part of these interactions. There are around a billion Facebook and Twitter users worldwide. So we can think of the number of interactions that happens on each of this to be larger (some multiples of the number of users). Add to this the other networking sites and online forums, and it comes out to be a huge pool of information.
There is a growing number of young population that prefers to communicate online, compared to other mediums. Young customers want to be serviced in a way that involves less hassles and less intervention. Social media offers that medium. It thus offers enterprises an alternative platform to service customers and respond to their queries quickly.
This explains why social media is playing a part in organizations' customer service strategies. Not just that, in the long run it can also have an impact on the the brand image of an enterprise. Especially, in a scenario where enterprises have fewer options to show a competitive differentiation. Andrew kokes, Sitel, says, “Social media interactions are going to happen with or without you”. Then why not be a part of it and capture the opportunity.
Are You Ready for it?
But behind all this lies a big challenge. What will these interactions lead to is an important point to think about. Will enterprises be able to make sense of all the information that comes out of the exploding amounts of interactions happening all around them. There are a few questions to be asked before an enterprise decides to take the plunge.
Firstly, it requires maintaining a presence everywhere possible. This requires additional resources. Are organizations in a state to do that? Will the additional amount of resources being put in be worth the results?
Secondly, how to filter out the huge chunks of information that they get out of it and convert it into useful data that helps in decision making. Companies like Ford and Pepsico have monitored their social media interactions and also used it successfully in their marketing strategies. It sets a good example for businesses. Will others be able to follow suit?
Getting the target right? Not all customers are likely to interact through social media, at least not yet. There is a high chance of losing out on an important customer base. What about the non customers that represents the biggest potential market?
Though a social media presence can offer loads of opportunities, how to manage interactions across different platforms and combine these into one effective social media strategy is what organizations need to think about.
Watch this space for more on social media and other trends in contact centers.