Climbing the Social Media Ladder: A Contact Center Roadmap & Maturity Model for Social Media
In recent memory, few things have preoccupied contact center managers' minds as has the topic of public social networks and how to deal with them. Most managers will admit that, while they're aware of the ever-increasing popularity of sites such as Twitter and Facebook and of the potential challenges and benefits that come with such channels, most do not have a salient strategy or roadmap to follow.
While one could write many healthy books on the topic, in this post, I will attempt to provide a high level roadmap for contact centers specifying incremental steps they can take to go from merely being aware of social media all the way to leveraging them and potentially going as far as serving as nerve centers within their organizations for all social media activity. The roadmap serves a dual purpose: it is also a maturity model against which to judge a contact center's developmental maturity vis-a-vis other centers.
Having been involved with a number of organizations that have climbed the rungs of the roadmap ladder I am about to present, I believe it provides contact center organizations with a sensible and incremental roadmap to be able to respond and leverage the power of these new channels.
In this first post of the series, I'll provide a quick overview of each of the rungs/stages; stay tuned to follow-on posts in this series for a more detailed discussion of each stage.
Stage 0: Awareness: Understand the Relevant Social Media Landscape
Not surprisingly, the vast majority of call centers and, for that matter, the vast majority of companies as a whole are in this initial stage of the maturity model. In this stage, companies are aware of social media's increasing prominence but are still unsure about which networks might be most relevant and whether or not their company or their brand is referenced in the media and in what context. To succeed in this stage, organizations must identify and inventory the top relevant channels and the most influential/prodigious posters within each channel.
Stage 1: Monitoring: Know What the Cloud Is Saying
Once an organization has understood the social media landscape that's relevant to their industry, it's time to monitor those channels with a special focus on industry trends, lessons learned from other companies' situations, what promnient authors are saying and, perhaps most importantly, what, if anything, is being said about the subject company and/or its brand image.
Stage 2: Reactive Response: Respond to Customers & Prospects
The next stage is actively engaging posts that are relevant to the subject company's brand. This, as one might imagine, is a delicate activity as it is rather easy to be seen as divisive and to quickly create negative sentiment. For that reason, it is advisable to start with: 1) responses that are targetted at the individual poster as opposed to a public response; and 2) reponses to the more objective and thus typically technical questions as opposed to broader and/or more subjective topics.
Stage 3: Proactive Engagement: Reach Customers & Prospects
Once an organization has mastered reactive engagement, it is time for it to build a proactive means of communicating with its customers and prospects. A simple example here would be establishing a Facebook presence that announces to its fans (presumably existing and prospective customers) posts on the company's blog, information on upcoming feature releases, etc.
Stage 4: Leveraging & Crowd-Sourcing: Profit from Social Media
At this stage, the organization is rather sophisticated in its social media presence, processes, and its feel for its social media presence; it is likely very able to predict how the "crowd" would react in various situations and in response to certain language and/or positioning. Its job now is to leverage that crowd to both allay support costs (e.g., Microsoft mastered this principle with a community-supported release of Windows 7) as well as help drive lead generation activities (e.g., crowds can be incredibly effective at promoting one brand over another).
Stage 5: Integration: Connect Social and Physical Presence
A final stage in social media maturity centers around the organization's ability to integrate its virtual presence with its physical one: that is, to seamlessly learn from the crowd (in the social cloud) and integrate that knowledge in its physical business practices and processes and, further, to equally seamlessly integrate legacy processes and notifications from the physical models into suitable posts and notifications in the social cloud.
The upcoming posts in this series will delve into each stage in more detail providing the steps and checklists needed to succeed in this brave new domain. See you then!