Social media is currently generating considerable buzz within the contact centre space as a new and very different communication channel. However, most firms are still trying to figure out how best to interact with customers via this medium. Critical themes to consider for social media deployment include: enabling social media in customer care, deploying home agents, complying with stringent security requirements, and providing private cloud functionality.

Social media is fundamentally different from all other customer engagement channels in that it transmits public conversations. In the contact centre context, social media becomes a customer collaboration tool for monitoring conversations and interacting publicly with consumers. As these lines of communication are opened, there are challenges in supporting social media that need to be addressed. This includes anonymity, maintaining security for sensitive information, and having agents with social media skills.

To be successful with social media, firms should consider creating a single department responsible for customer engagement strategy across all media. Ongoing participation by other departments is also encouraged to get employees on the same page, while also establishing a formal social media workflow.

"Public conversations follow a unique set of engagement rules," said Frost & Sullivan Principal Analyst Michael DeSalles. "It is critical to capture the audience's attention, ensure accuracy and promote and protect the brand."

There are several key opportunities for improving customer interaction and relationship building. By engaging with customers using social media, contact centres can generate business development, detect early warnings of issues, and push for efficient communications between marketing and the customer base.

"A successful social media strategy requires a cross functional team with a deep understanding of customer behaviour, social media tools and well-defined goals to achieve the highest results," said Director, Contact Center Consulting Practice Strategic Products and Services, Monica Tarr.

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