Category Archives: Social Media
The paradigm shift has already begun to enable content creators and their peers to curate their own knowledge across blogs, wikis and social streams, such as Twitter. It’s vital that enterprise organizations work quickly to integrate those data streams in real-time to better understand customer requirements, state of satisfaction, and challenges. If not, they will miss prime opportunities to:
• Have the full picture when engaging with customers on support cases and sales
• Identify sales opportunities based on customer requests
• Improve engineering and R&D initiatives, based on real-time customer feedback
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Data, by its very nature, is difficult to find and to analyze because it’s stored in so many places, with no way to search through it or correlate it across systems to derive meaning from it.
As a recent Fast Company interview with Coveo CEO Louis Têtu stated, people who could remember all of this information, and easily correlate it—mentally—were those who succeeded most often. However, the amount of unstructured data makes it impossible for an individual to know everything that’s occurring related to a specific topic, at any point in time. Add in social media channels which contain up to the minute data, and you have an unbelievably complex information mess. How can an individual, much less all employees in a company, gain insight from such widespread, diverse data in disparate systems?
Well if all of these systems could be connected to each other so we could all understand, assimilate and correlate the information to make effective decisions, provide great service, help customers understand more about our products, and even build more innovative products that contained customer input – from all of our interactions with them—well, that might solve our problem. But would it? Do integrations provide the kind of real-time information mashup that would be required? Not really. Even so, it’s not news that the promise of system consolidation has long eluded companies and we’ve all heard the horror stories about dashboards taking a year to implement, and then they are just windows into different systems rather than actual data mashups.
Every organization wants to generate Insight from its data sources, and many probably think they’re doing a solid job in this area. However, most aren’t gleaning the level of insight they could, and it could be simply that this type of technology is new to the corporate world, though it has been used by consumers for years now – just take a look at Yahoo! Finance to see what I mean.
Until companies adopt the central, unified index approach, they may continue to suffer from what we call “Insight Deficit.” Here are some symptoms that may be familiar to you:
- Employees are frustrated that they need to attend additional training sessions because they can’t see data in the right context.
- Customers are dissatisfied with long response times and feel that your company doesn’t really know them.
- Mistakes happen more than you’d care to admit because employees simply can’t find the information needed to make fast, accurate decisions.
- Products are taking longer to get to market than they should.
If you’re interested in finding out how to think about injecting Insight into business processes from customer service to engineering/product development and sales & marketing, you may want to view an eBook we recently published on making 2012 the year of insight for your organization. Please take a look, and share how you are leveraging today’s overload of data to gain better insight into your customers, projects, products and people. Looking forward to the conversation.
Today’s support executives are awash in an ocean of data. The Technology Services Industry Association (TSIA) members receive, on average, over 51,000 support incidents a month, across phone, email, Web chat, and online incidents, each filled with critical information about products and services. CRM, incident management, and telephony systems track hundreds of metrics—the TSIA Support Services benchmark itself surveys members for more than 300 individual operational, financial, and quality metrics.
To add to this mass of information, new social media tools are creating even more customer interactions across social networks and microblogging, with customer communities and online discussion forums spawning huge libraries of information. Eighty-five percent of TSIA members expect to have a discussion forum available for customers in 2011.
Adoption of other social media avenues for customer support is also growing, with over half of members offering video content on sites such as YouTube, nearly half of members interacting with customers via microblogging tools such as Twitter, and over a quarter of members leveraging social networking sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn to support customers. In all, TSIA members estimate that between eight and 14% of total customer interactions in 2011 will be handled via social media.
The statistics are staggering, yet there’s no hiding from them. I suspect that the number of social content sources that contain valuable customer information will continue to proliferate, just as the number of data sources that contain customer information behind the firewall do so as well. It’s the nature of the information proliferation beast.
However, this means that customer service departments require new technology to make sense of all this unstructured data, combine it with structured data, and create actionable knowledge through the combination of search, knowledge management and customer experience management. This delivers a new level of Knowledge Insight for customer service and support teams. Imagine the power of combining content from social channels with customer information contained in your CRM, knowledge base, ticketing system, bug database, and more. You gain a much more powerful view – and much more insight – into your customer and customer base. You can finally bring order to the social media chaos, better serve your customers, and improve vital customer support statistics at the same time.
The transparency of social media channels has raised customer expectations. Organizations that embrace this transparency are beginning to leverage social media channels as additional sources of knowledge that can be turned into actionable insight. Having a deeper understanding of, and more insight into, a customer account will help sales and support organizations better know, better serve, and ultimately sell more to their customers.
The word social has taken on so many meanings in the past few years that the word itself can create confusion. Try tying it to the value to be created and you’ve added more confusion. Let’s define it by its basic elements:
- Social = the wisdom of crowds
- Social is about trust, trusted sources, verified sources
- Social is about finding the people who know what you need to know
- Social is about what people think
Consumers use social content for all kinds of activities, from shopping decisions to where invest. It all starts with an Internet search – but generally only to locate a site that has consolidated the information they need – such as a Yahoo:Finance site. There they would enter a stock ticker symbol or name, and view the resulting 360-view of, for example, GE, as a possible investment. They would see stock price, price history over time, key ratios and statistics, news and related blogs, similar stocks they may want to invest in, analysts covering GE, and more. They can navigate through this view, and dive into any of the related materials. Same for online shopping, even for looking up a friend on Facebook, where they would see their friend, recent activities, their friend’s friends, groups, news, and more. Consumers expect this immediate, concise, 360 degree view of information that’s important to them – all within seconds.
And yet, when these same individuals go to a company’s corporate website to find out what’s going on with their recent product challenge, they often are faced with either a single search box which might bring back a list of related information or documents that they would need to read through to find their answer, or having to pick up the phone to call, or, if they have an initial issue to register, adding that to a not-very-user-friendly interface, and just receiving confirmation that it was received. No wonder they will often search the Internet and social media channels, to see if anyone else has faced their issue, and find out how to solve it, quickly, if possible. What happens when they find some answers on the Internet, then need some further clarification and call your contact center? They may be better armed with information than the agent they speak with possesses. If that’s the case, they will lose respect and trust for the agent, as well as for your company overall.
That’s social. And, it has important implications for your contact center, your company’s brand, and your company’s revenue, as the consumerization of corporate purchasing and technology continues.
So what can be done about it? There are technologies available for inside the enterprise that create similar types of interactive “views,” or dashboards containing information mashups, for your customers, agents, managers/executives – really for any constituency. Thankfully for IT, this doesn’t require a rip and replace strategy, rather it involves optimizing the systems and information that you already have within and access external to your organization.
Coveo’s Enterprise Search 2.0 Platform powers these solutions, and by power we mean stitch together the information by pulling data and knowledge from virtually any system into a central, unified index. This contains both structured and unstructured information. In effect, it is using the knowledge of everyone who creates content or interacts with it. From the central index, 360 views of the information important to a certain constituency, such as customers, or agents, are configured, providing near real-time access to the most recent information, in a format which is easy to understand, and interactive, meaning the user can explore the information, interact with it, and follow it. The user can even find experts they can reach out to for help. It’s like navigating to different sites on the Internet, and yet all the information that is returned to you is contextually relevant, timely, and helps the user conduct the task he or she is attempting to accomplish, whether that is solving an issue for a customer, or looking at customer base trends. It’s what your employees and your customers have come to expect in the enterprise and from their vendors, based on their consumer experiences on the public web.
This information doesn’t actually move from the system in which it resides; it stays there. So the central index includes information from online social communities, where customers may be talking about a certain product, or reacting to a new product; to a CRM system, knowledgebase, financial systems, cloud-based systems and those inside the firewall as well. This is crowdsourcing at its best, leveraging the collective knowledge that has been created, and also identifying the creator for additional knowledge sharing. Looking at customer trends, product trends, etc., provides the type of analytics that can move companies forward. Knowing more than what the customer knows when he or she calls your contact center can move customer relationships to the next level, and ensure continued goodwill which will result in a better brand and additional revenue in the future.
Interested in discussing this further? Please join Coveo on Thursday, June 9th at 12:00 pm ET, and our guest Paul Greenberg, the “godfather of CRM” and best-selling author, as we discuss what social means to B2B customer service and how the best performing companies are incorporating these channels into 360 views of customer information. You can register for this free webinar here.