Social Media Analytics – Growth Engine for Next-Gen Customer Care
The explosion in use of social media among consumers – for everything from sharing how-to’s to complaining about poor customer service – presents companies with simultaneous advantages and challenges. Social media offers a powerful opportunity to derive significant value from understanding customers’ experiences in real time and in their own words, as well as the prospect of growing an army of brand ambassadors. At the same time, organizations are challenged to implement processes to effectively manage and realize the full benefit of the social media channel, and can suffer dire consequences if consumer sentiment turns against them.
In step with, and interrelated to, the rise in use of social media are two additional trends:
- Analytics focus is increasing. Analytics is a vital tool needed to harness the power of social media; however, compared to the more established contact center channels, social media involves larger volumes of unstructured data, and analysis is considerably more difficult, particularly as the truly valuable insights come from the more complex descriptive, predictive, and prescriptive analytics processes.
- Multi-channel management becomes increasingly important as social media gains acceptance and customer care centers need try to integrate both processes and data from across a number of contact options.
- For a variety of reasons, organizations are challenged in implementing effective social media management, and associated analytics, strategies:
- Stakeholder alignment: Social media cuts across multiple functional departments within organizations, including marketing, customer care, and IT, each of which focuses on a different set of outcomes and target metrics, creating internal decision bottlenecks
- Immature social media adoption: Companies vary greatly in their adoption of social media, often based largely on their history and culture; a company’s approach to social media determines the degree to which they invest in it and the nature of the analytics they seek
- Lack of an adoption roadmap: For many companies, getting off the starting block in adopting social media is the toughest step. Identifying how to implement effectively, how to integrate social media channels with existing operations, and how to derive value from social media can slow the pace of adoption
- Channel integration challenges: Consumers’ expectations for a seamless experience enhanced by institutional knowledge of their individual needs are heightened when social media is involved. All channels need to be fully integrated, and analytics deployed, for this expectation to be met
- Shortage of internal social media and analytics skills: Given the emerging nature of social media CRM, organizations often lack the necessary strategy, implementation, and ongoing operations skills. Furthermore, customer service agents supporting social media interaction channels require specialized skills. Taken together, these skill gaps hamper adoption efforts and limit overall benefits
On the other hand, organizations recognize the substantial benefits that can accrue from addressing these challenges, including the ability to document, track, and analyze consumer sentiment in their own words, and the concomitant opportunity to apply analytics to these communications to generate insights into consumer behaviors, expectations, and concerns.
Service providers are becoming key enablers of social media and analytics, as well as multi-channel management strategies, helping enterprises harness the power of social media. Though still only 3.4% of all spending with CCO providers, adoption of social media as an interaction channel has grown by 53% over the past several years, and we expect that adoption rate to continue to increase in the foreseeable future.
Clients are engaging their CCO providers in a variety of ways, seeking support for social media and analytics, as well as solutions to broader challenges.
Organizations and their CCO providers are actively building a wide range of applications for analytics that include social media and span the broader customer care lifecycle. In the past several years, CCO providers’ technology investments have focused most heavily on tools that enable enhanced consumer experience and greater effectiveness of the contact center process. Looking across the technology and solution landscape, a few specific themes emerge:
- Social media interaction tools and analytics tools tend to be closely paired
- CCO providers have taken a total solution approach to address clients’ various social media needs; while targeted point solutions are part of the portfolio, they are often deployed in an integrated manner
- CCO providers are ahead of the market; with the exception of a few mature social media adopters, client organizations view CCO providers as a means to access the technology capabilities and expertise they lack internally
- No set of tools and technologies can fulfill the desired outcome without solid strategy and sound implementation
The rise of social media presents both opportunities and challenges to the customer care process and the contact center environment. Faced with these changing dynamics, organizations are recognizing the need to seek assistance, and CCO providers are rising to the challenge, investing heavily to address their clients’ technology and process requirements. Although CCO providers vary in the sophistication of their social media capabilities, it is evident that CCO providers are ahead of most organizations in solutioning and implementing the components of a successful social media and analytics strategy. For many organizations, especially those grappling with the many implications of social media, their CCO providers may be a good starting point in figuring out the path ahead.
For a detailed analysis of the social media analytics in customer care, see Everest Group’s report, Social Media Analytics – Growth Engine for Next-Gen Customer Care.