The Call Center and Social Engagement

By | Apr 9, 2014

When it comes to both sales and support, the call center has been the first point of customer contact for many businesses; but as customers move to embrace social media, online channels and communities are becoming a preferred avenue of engagement for many. According to Lauren Horwitz on TechTarget, customer assistance via social media is not a clear-cut addition to call center responsibilities. Some businesses view social media as requiring a different skill set from that of standard customer support and maintain it as a separate team. Others view social channels only as an alternative media for the same service and interactions, with the value in having a complete customer history and consistent messaging.

Technical Implications

The technology choices required to support customer care are influenced by which business model is chosen. Separation between the call center and social media teams tends towards two different implementations of customer relationship management (CRM) systems that focus on the engagement channels used for each group. When both teams are aligned, sharing a CRM with the ability to manage all engagement channels through a single portal becomes a system requirement. While the separate systems may be easier to maintain and support by separate IT teams, this lack of integration can cause technical issues downstream.

Customer interaction data is some of the most important information for business analytics investigations; and as a precondition for effect, analytics is the alignment of data sources. If CRM data repositories are not sourced from the same systems, the additional overhead required to reconcile data elements are borne by the analytics operations. The reconciliation overhead does not exist when the call center and social media teams are using a single CRM system.

Technical Support

Midsize IT professionals are more likely to support multiple systems rather than dedicated operational teams assigned to each business application. When the business decides to separate the call center and social media teams, the repercussions for the IT department can be significant since IT must provide the internal support for two systems instead of one.

Business operation choices affecting team reporting structures frequently were not a concern for IT in the past when technology tools were standard regardless of business function. The transition to digital business models according to which data and technology become key business capabilities increases the impact of business operations on IT. IT may not be the core users of new technologies, but choices by the business require input from IT leaders to ensure downstream impacts in the areas of business analytics and support.

This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. Like us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter.

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