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We’ll come to you.

Many of the tried and true metrics adopted by call centers for customer support center around customer avoidance. They reward those reps who can get off the phone quickly, for example, but there is no metric built around the customer receiving the support they needed. The fact that "this call may be recorded" seems to offer little respite - given that it is the company itself to listen to the call.

Social media can help you move into customer conversation by allowing the customer service reps themselves to take matters into their own hands. First off, the cost per interaction is incredibly lower with social media as compared to calls. Secondly, everyone now sees how you’re doing, not just the company. It’s recorded digitally.

That is good for several reasons.
  1. Other customers and prospects now have the opportunity to evaluate whether they’d do business with you on the basis of your behavior;
  2. You can establish a credible channel to begin to address the areas in which you have come up short, according to your customers;
  3. Customer service reps on the front lines can address issues in real time and become company and brand stewards, thus creating good will;
  4. You can learn a great deal about what works.
In fact, given the results of the 2008 Business Social Media study by Boston Consulting firm Cone, it is apparent that how you respond to customers online affects many more customers and prospects than just those who are interacting with you directly in the medium.

The online survey was conducted September 11-12, 2008, by Opinion Research Corporation. Among 1,092 adults comprising 525 men and 567 women 18 years of age and older:
  • 60% said they interact with companies using social media
  • 93% said a company should have a presence in social media
  • 85% stated that a company should not only be present but also interact with its customers via social media
  • 56% said they feel a stronger connection with and better served by companies when they can interact with them in a social media environment
  • 43% stated companies should use social networks to solve customers' problems
  • 41% said companies should use social media to solicit feedback about products and services

Those of us who are more involved with social media know that in order for companies to gain confidence in using these tools, they need to become comfortable with metrics - as in return on investment (ROI). Fair enough, after all, sometimes there is a disconnect between what we say we do and what we actually do.

Many companies are working on establishing solid social media metrics on a number of fronts. As the case studies begin to create a baseline, consider this - what is the cost of not participating to you? Would you rather be exactly right (and measurably so) in customer avoidance, or approximately there (especially in positive word of mouth) in customer conversation?


Valeria Maltoni • Conversation Agent