The Social Contact Centre

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

Posts Tagged ‘Social network

Using Social Networking for contact centres – WIP

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Although most of my posts are about social networking my main day job is a contact centre manager. The danger is to think that social networking is an activity in itself  and that we pigeon-hole it. Taking Metricman’s model which I reblogged below. It seems to me that the greatest business value comes from the right hand side of the chart – I really believe that social networking is where the enormous business benefit is rather than social media.

So in my day job I try to use social techniques to improve the way we do business. If in doubt, think social first. Here are some examples of what we do:

1. Collaboration. Communication is everything and in the contact centre comes loyalty, quality and teamwork. We use Yammer as a collaborative innovation tool and as a further communication layer. We use ALL opportunities to communicate with our team – face-to-face, webchat, blogging, memos, intranet, email and social media – and try to find the right method for what we are trying to achieve. A big part of this is establishing a meaningful two-way communication and we are really seeing the benefits of consulting rather than telling on topics such as dress-code, canteen facilities, productivity and improvement ideas. We are also collaborating with clients in the same ways and this creates a very rich partnership approach because of the openness and the depth of conversation.

2. Brand representation. We try to think of using social media as a way of communicating with the outside world both as a company but also as individuals. GreenContact is my personal blog but it is obviously tinged by my work experience at Prolog. We use Facebook, Twitter and YouTube for activities as diverse as promotions, recruitment, branding and employee satisfaction. Once again, the starting point has to be to think social first. Many of the ideas don’t work or get very little response but you have to remember to compare it with traditional methods and also to compare the cost.

3. Social media listening and intervention. We are using a range of tools to monitor what is being said about us, our client’s brands, and our client’s competitors. We are doing this as a paid service but also to help us to do our job better as a supplier. It is giving us an insight into the issues affecting our clients and allowing us to adapt the way we train and the approach we take. We are only scratching the surface in this area I believe.

4. We are beginning to also then look at how Social Networking informs our business. An example we have currently is with forecasting and how social media can validate and project forecasts –  we are trying to correlate the noise generated with social media with the subsequent activity through traditional channels. Many of the free Twitter tools which offered trending are closed but an interesting alternative is Google Trends which links numbers of searches with news activity (see the graphic before looking at volumes on phone hacking linked to news coverage). Understanding the linkage between awareness and interest levels and the move to action can help significantly. We can see forecast peaks which have no linkage with the groundswell of conversation and which don’t have any promotional activity planned which makes us question how realistic the forecast is. We can also see some other work where the volume of conversation is growing steadily over time and, as a result, what we thought was a blip may actually be something more. It’s work in progress but has huge potential I think.

Written by greencontact

July 24, 2012 at 11:01 am

Fishing In The Right Places

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This is about creating the audience – the bit that is often taken for granted. How do you get the people you want to follow, friend or subscribe so that you can communicate with them in the first place?

I only ever went seriously fishing once. On a cold and grey Spring day I went with friends, sat down at the edge of an enormous reservoir and caught nothing. I had no technique, no special equipment, no idea what lay beneath the water and no local knowledge. I got precisely what I deserved and couldn’t wait to go home. Every weekend keen and skilled anglers compete and land huge catches at the same place.

The excellent Groundswell by @charleneli and @joshbernoff describes a four stage method called POST (People, Objectives, Strategy and Technology) and everything begins with understanding what your “people” are ready for. I take a little issue with this in that I think the Objectives may come before the People. The objective for social media interaction may not just/always be end consumers. In a B2B environment it could be other stakeholders such as employees, journalists, Government etc and unless the strategy for the social media effort is properly understood you may begin with the audience you have rather than seek out the audience you want.

Assuming the target audience is identified Groundswell then lays out the Social Technographics Ladder and a method for identifying how you customers are most likely to want to communicate and to identify the media and methods that are most likely to be successful. There are big differences between age groups, sexes, nationalities and interest groups. The key is to identify the social usage profile of your customers – in crude terms you want to be fishing with the right bait.

If Twitter or Facebook are suitable approaches here are some techniques I’ve used for finding the right people:

  • Use hashtag searches to find people who are talking about the right topics. Start with your own brands, products and markets. This method will also find a lot of suppliers and competitors. You need to decide how you are going to deal with these. At the very least you need to keep some form of segmentation of your crowd.
  • Read the trade journals. These can be a good aide memoir for when you are having a mental block. It also prompts names of journalists.
  • Some journalists advertise their Twitter names as a means of contacting them. There are also some quite dated lists on the internet. One other thing is to check out key names’ own follow lists. Often key journalists may have thousands of followers but only a smaller number of the people who influence them. Check out their Lists also.
  • Go through your contact lists and the collective library of colleagues and then try and find Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter contacts against them.
  • As you put out content (with appropriate hashtags) some of the people you want to contact will find you and you can close the loop be friending them or following them back.

Slowly your follow list will grow and at this stage this is the target audience. The next step is how to convert the non-followers into part of your crowd. Here are some tips for I’ve found to work in doing this.

  • Identify a small target list of the people you really want to follow you and comment in context with what they are talking about when they talk about it. This will make sure the comments are on topics they are interested in at a time they are probably watching the conversation. At times this may be quite time consuming but the result is worthwhile. Don’t tweet or update for the sake of it though. Less, better quality, comment is far better and will avoid the ultimate snub.
  • When you meet people try and add them to your LinkedIn group or ask them if they use Social Media immediately. It is far less awkward to issue an invitation soon after the event. Remember, with Twitter or LinkedIn each time you add a contact you also have access to their lists. Don’t abuse this.
  • Comment and talk about current topics in an interesting way. Just retweeting, interacting or banal comments won’t cut it to attract followers and it won’t keep them in the future. Keep your eye on trending topics.
  • Choose carefully who you follow back. It isn’t about numbers and at some point you may have to unfollow in Twitter to let more people in. The other thing is that the bigger the numbers, the harder the management of them. Are people in a different country, different industry or pure spammers really going to add value to your proposition? Are you really going to add to theirs?

No matter what else you are doing, keep a focus on the quality of your crowd. Even when you are busy with other promotional activity remember to look after your followers. You need to communicate regularly to keep them interested and notice when they want to interact with you. This is a social network not a sales pitch. Everything else tactically may change but your crowd moves with you.


Written by greencontact

February 1, 2012 at 4:39 pm

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 – remember 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