The Social Contact Centre

to a social networking way of working through the eyes of a Contact Centre manager

Posts Tagged ‘@danslee

Yammer Clamour

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My objective is to try and build a social contact centre: A multichannel environment which thrives on using social techniques to communicate internally, with stakeholders, and with clients. We will develop product sets which address the needs of social media customers and build processes which are efficient through social networking techniques. I am doing this because I think there is a huge amount of untapped potential, knowledge and new thinking which will create a unique, agile capability.

With this in mind I began looking at collaborative tools a couple of years ago and struggled to make a reasonable business case. The capital expenditure seemed high against quite soft returns and this made me rethink what the strategy ought to be. I then stumbled across Yammer through a conversation on Twitter where @DanSlee told me about the best social project he’d done with zero budget. My ears pricked up!

One Friday afternoon I decided to launch in a low key way Рremember those words LOW KEY. Now this is against a background of working hard to improve communications in the contact centre anyway. We have been through five years of improving the way we do things and trying to increase engagement through building a social knowledgebase (FAQs but also sending e-cards to each other, publishing all results, strategies etc), blogging regularly (team managers, account managers and me), Agent forums with published minutes, staff satisfaction surveys, interactive chat with coaches and managers,  encouraging the independent creation of  an alumni Facebook site, and using Facebook, Twitter and YouTube for the business. Collaboration was launched against a context not cold into the team.

On this Friday afternoon I set up an account for the free Yammer service and was confronted with a “who else do you think would be interested” screen and entered some email addresses in the company that I though would be interested. This triggered invitations to the Yammer community which also invited them to suggest other people that may be interested. By late afternoon there were 100 people on the network who were curious as to what it was. I immediately began to wonder about security and bandwidth issues and sought clearance from our IT department and my Director. What I realised immediately is the absolute thirst to communicate. People want to help but they aren’t given a voice enough. By the close of play the network had Executive attention and questions of policy came into play very quickly with some people being advised by their managers to withdraw. Remember, at this point no-one had had any instructions on what the product was or what it did, and the numbers kept growing.

I created some groups – obvious ones to discuss particular topics and also departments but very quickly other departments began creating their own groups. One particular thrill was the Payroll department opening for business and asking for feedback on the service they provide – when does that happen normally? How could it easily happen?

The obvious nervousness was around the look and feel of the site. It feels like a social media environment because its easy to use and potentially easy to abuse. I am aware of other launches where the site fizzles out as just another Facebook group or becomes a subculture. I have a feeling that because of the preparation work on communication the early adopters at my company knew how to behave and why the capability was launched. As a result they conformed with the crowd from the start and so new joiners had role models to copy. We had a couple of private messages in the early days asking people to moderate the wording of their profiles but no posts had to be removed. We had a couple of Facebook like greetings as new members came online but they soon picked up the house style.

We now have around 260 members, 20 groups, 2 external networks and membership covers all departments and all levels (including the Board). People use the system in different ways but we now have consistent steady, focussed use rather than initially we needed a little crowd entertainment and “hosting” to get things going. Most importantly we have a platform to drive change and to collaborate and we haven’t had to rein it back which could potentially lose momentum or goodwill . We’ve bought the main client external network and we see the potential with clients and stakeholders.

Written by greencontact

January 26, 2012 at 9:26 am