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The new CRM: How to break down social media service siloes

31st Aug 2012
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Marty Beard, CEO of LiveOps, tells why the next 12-18 months is critically important for CRM.

Despite a growing corporate profile on social media, research indicates that in many cases brands have little more than a token presence on many networks.
Gartner recently highlighted that despite while more than 80% of Fortune 500’s 100 largest companies have a social media presence, only 53% are actively engaging in customer service and support.
And so while customers are increasingly able to find corporate social profiles, these are often little more than point solutions, with no integration with the rest of the business.
This presents a problem, as a growing number of customers are now turning to social media for service support, only to find that they have to go through more traditional channels for their issues to be resolved.
“This is really a new CRM,” says Marty Beard, CEO of cloud contact centre and customer service solutions provider LiveOps. “CRM has traditionally been one way – I have information in my system about a customer, maybe I am doing some outbound marketing to that customer and when CRM went social a lot of companies also had their Facebook page, and Twitter corporate interactions. But what was that this has become very two-way. So if you are going to market out to customers you better be ready to serve when they come in and they have a lot of questions. If you are going to launch into the social realm then you need to be able to interact in real-time and you need to be able to do it very effectively, with people who are experienced in providing service.”
However, many organisations have given the marketing department responsibility for social media, a department that is not well versed at providing service. And while there are a growing number of social media monitoring solutions available, most lack the capability to implement customer engagement directly through their existing contact centre.
This capability includes accessing existing customer data from CRM databases that are integrated with the contact centre that enable the agent to have a smarter interaction with the customer and the customer to have a better experience.  Merely moving customers from social channels to traditional channels without maintaining context doesn’t add much value – in fact, it only detracts from the customer’s experience. 
Channel pivoting
This is the need that LiveOps is seeking to satisfy with its latest product. LiveOps Social for SMS, Facebook and Twitter enables a company’s knowledgeable, experienced, available customer service agents to interact directly with consumers in Facebook and Twitter via the customer service contact centre.
Beard explains: “The important part here is that customers don’t just up the phone and call in to a company for support any more – they are tweeting, posting on Facebook, texting, emailing and web chatting. And all of this is starting to bloom and it is all happening at once. The contact centre sits in the middle of all of these trends – the Cloud trend, the social trend, the mobile trend – and LiveOps comes in and helps them very practically and effectively deal with those trends in providing better customer service.
“What is unique about our software suite is we truly have multichannel capability, and that means customers who are coming into a company for customer support can come in through traditional channels like voice or email, but also through SMS, through Twitter, through Facebook, through web chat, and all of these channels are enabled by our platform.”
And businesses also need to nimble enough to reflect the flexibility of the modern channel-agnostic customer, who may wish to take a single dialogue across several channels.  
“You have to be able to pivot between the channels,” continues Beard. “Someone may tweet that they have a particular issue and that is very much in the public realm and brands need to be able to interact with them very quickly and respond to the tweet and say ‘we understand and we can help you please click on this URL’ and that will immediately go into a web chat session so now you are in more of a private sphere. So this pivoting between channels and between public and private is becoming increasingly important.”
Having plied its trade across the traditional channels in the contact centre, LiveOps’ platform expansion represents the fruits of the Cloud firm’s acquisition of New Zealand-based Datasquirt last year, an integration that Beard believes puts LiveOps in a perfect position to support businesses in the changing service landscape.
“Dealing with service through siloes doesn’t work,” he emphasises. “Enterprises are quickly learning that if you hire a couple of interns to monitor hashtags on Twitter it doesn’t work, this has to be considered part of the normal professional enterprise grade customer service. The same issue with marketing - marketing was busy marketing out and wasn’t prepared for the customer queries coming in, which normally come in to your contact centre or customer support.
“All of this is quickly starting to be looked at much more holistically, this needs to be integrated. And what is cool about LiveOps is that we have already done that for them so that we can go in and say ‘look all of these channels are integrated already’ and we bring all of that together on a screen in front of customer support agents, and they can look at the screen and they see all the channels - email, SMS, chat, Twitter, Facebook - and they can see the queue of cases that they are working with, and for the actual case they are working with they see the channel history of that customer. You get this history so that the person feels known and they don’t have to repeat themselves.”
And Beard believes that as more customers turn to social media as their first port of call for support, this kind of service will only become more important.
He concludes: “This is going to become really important over the next 12-18 months, because enterprises are realising they can’t ignore social requests to help, they can’t just leave it out there or they’ll destroy their brand and feed it to the social community. They can’t deal with these in silos because it is expensive, it is complicated, and it provides a lousy interface to the customer. And so it is starting to come together.”

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