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Top Three Barriers to Success in Social Engagement For Customer Care

Social customer care is not as simple as replying to a customer on Twitter or Facebook. If you are about to take on social engagement for customer care, you can benefit from the rocky road other practitioners have traveled, and take into considerations the lessons learned.

Specifically, there are challenges to overcome that might not be obvious at first. Here are the top three barriers to social engagement success, based on what customers tell us.

Accurate Reporting
Contact center professionals expect their communication channels to be easily tracked and measured. Unfortunately, for social media, that is not the case.

In a recent survey by ICMI, 80% of contact centers that offer social customer care struggle with accurate reporting and analytics. Early makers of "social" software were not familiar with traditional contact center metrics like SLAs (Service Level Agreement) or KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) for agents. These metrics are essential because they help to drive the correct behavior with agents and act as the benchmark for how well the entire service organization is performing.

For example, SLA metrics help you to understand how many interactions are in queue and waiting to be serviced. Or how long it takes on average to respond to customers. The same applies to social posts.

The same also goes for metrics that show how well an individual agent is doing. For example, consider the number of interactions that were handled by an agent during his or her shift. Or the length of time it took to resolve an issue.

Be sure to carefully inspect the reporting and real-time dashboards of any software you're eyeing for social engagement. If you can't count response times, hold times, number of posts answered, etc., you will have a hard time reporting your efficacy as a team to management.

Wading Through all the Data
Another major roadblock to success is spam. Just like with email, non-relevant social posts are the enemy of productivity in today's modern contact center. Some customers who have tried non-professional tools complain that as much as 85% of agents' time is spent sorting through spam. That means agent occupancy is very low and therefore an agent's ability to service legitimate customer requests is negatively affected.

The way to avoid this roadblock is with true NLP (Natural Language Processing) capabilities. An NLP engine can be fine-tuned to listen for and carve out non-actionable posts. This is important because an efficient agent is a happy agent. Show me an agent that is looking at spam all day, and I'll show you an agent that turns over quickly.

Observing and Coaching Agents
Think of how hard it would be to monitor and coach agents if you did not have real-time dashboards or the ability to whisper-coach agents on voice channels. Now consider the same model for social. If you did not have the ability to understand what agent was working on which channel, or agent availability, or the sentiment (i.e."color") of their outreach--where would you be? You would be a ship without a rudder--with no insight into agent activity. The roadblock here is manifest in a "free-for-all" approach where agents log into disparate consoles with no centralized monitoring or coaching.

To avoid this problem, make sure you have access to a supervisory dashboard that shows all your agents' availability status, the type of interaction they are working on, and other real-time metrics. It's especially helpful to be able to see real-time outreach stats showing the "mood" of the people your agents are interacting with.

Lack of proper reporting, spam control and coaching tools can ruin your social engagement for customer care initiatives. However, if you keep these roadblocks in mind before you jump into social engagement for customer care, you can save yourself a lot of headaches. Be sure to consider real-time dashboards with SLA and KPI metrics, NLP capabilities, and supervisory control panels. Think: "Do these tools make for a world class contact center?"

Edwin Margulies is the Vice President of Social & Mobile Product Management at Five9. Ed is an industry veteran with significant expertise in customer service, voice and social technology. Ed has designed hundreds of automation systems and contact centers for both network and enterprise deployments. He’s also an author, having written more than a dozen books on contact center and social technology.