Social Dynamx Social Software Targets Call Centers
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Despite her concern about duct tape, Ryan said Social Dynamx does not expect to displace all the other products organizations may have adopted for online customer service. "We actually want to be the best citizen in that way and let it revolve around the agent," she said. "If you have a Lithium or Jive or some other knowledge base, when a question comes in we want to see if it's already been answered someplace, and if so drop the URL [web link] into the conversation."
Where Social Dynamx will distinguish itself is by fitting better into the contact center workflow--for example, by providing managers and supervisors with the means to track agent performance and the quality of their interactions with customers, Ryan said. The software automates the routing and prioritization of social posts that require an agent's attention, but it also allows agents to make a judgment on which of those posts merit being logged into the CRM system for follow-up and which ones represent idle chatter that can be safely ignored. "The truth is, a lot of these things don't belong in the CRM system."
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When the social channel is flooded with dozens or hundreds of queries on the same topic, a supervisor can also broadcast out a boilerplate response to many contacts at once. While that wouldn't be good to do on a routine basis, Ryan explained, it's the kind of thing that makes sense for a crisis—for example, a utility company responding to questions about an outage.
Certainly, other digital contact center products from companies like Kana are also integrating social channels alongside email and chat. Still, there remains a perceived gap between CRM and social software.
"No social enterprise transformation strategy can succeed unless Customer Service plays a central role," said Michael Maoz, vice president and distinguished analyst for customer strategies research at Gartner, in a prepared statement. "Current structures are inadequate. The challenge for senior management is to engineer the necessary process and technology changes that will allow customer service to evolve to embrace social trends. New concepts of recruitment, measurement, and outcomes are necessary to allow for the increased agent participation in social media. When this happens and the right supporting technology is deployed, businesses will see increased customer engagement and higher overall customer success."
Contacted for an interview, Maoz gave a more qualified endorsement, saying that Social Dynamx has "the right idea" and that "taking a more comprehensive approach to social and customer care is very good." However, he added that the company was likely to have a hard time winning against entrenched competitors in the CRM and contact center markets, even though competitors like SAP and Salesforce.com have so far taken only "baby steps" toward integrating social media. ` Follow David F. Carr on Twitter @davidfcarr. The BrainYard is @thebyard and facebook.com/thebyard
IT's challenge in dealing with social networks comes on two fronts: How to interact with would-be customers on big social networks like Facebook, and how to provide employees on internal networks with collaboration that's as powerful as their Facebook experiences. This virtual event, Social Business: Marshaling Expertise, Engaging Customers, Building Brands, will help IT leaders sort through their strategic choices. It happens April 26.