Avaya Integrates Social Media, Contact Center Products - InformationWeek

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7/12/2011
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Avaya Integrates Social Media, Contact Center Products

Want to track a social complaint just as if it came in via the phone or any other channel your business uses?

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Avaya is breaking down the walls between social media and other customer contact channels with products and services announced Tuesday.

Version 6.2 of Avaya Aura Contact Center is now integrated with Avaya Social Media Manager, the company's social monitoring product, allowing service and support cases to be created on the basis of social media contact and then continued by other means, such as text chat or even a call with the customer.

This "transmedia" unification of contacts between social media and other methods "has always been the goal," but Avaya is now delivering it, said Jorge Blanco, vice president of product marketing for contact center solutions. "Up until now, we've been focused on making sure we homed in on the first three steps of the process: the gathering and analyzing, the processing, and figuring out what matters."

Like other such systems, Social Media Manager has the challenge of filtering through posts from social media websites and blogs, looking for mentions of the company's brands and products. In a customer service context, significant posts are often the critical ones--sometimes conveniently flagged with a hashtag like "#fail" to indicate a product or service failure someone wants to vent about. Other times, the sentiment must be divined through natural language analytics. Either way, these are callouts companies are learning they can't ignore.

"When consumers use tags like #fail, they're looking for attention from that business, they're saying 'I'm upset with that business and I'm going to tell the world about it,'" Blanco said.

Like Cisco SocialMiner, Avaya Social Media Manager is specifically designed to be used by contact center agents, working alongside the people handling calls and emails. The software helps prioritize social media content that deserve attention by gauging both the sentiment and the influence of the person commenting or complaining. Agents specializing in social media can then try to contact those individuals, typically inviting them into a private chat or exchange of messages to seek to resolve a problem without continuing to attract attention to it through further social media chatter. If a resolution is reached, the company can try to get a public acknowledgement of it in the medium where the issue arose.

Once the individual is identified as a specific customer, a support case can now be tracked just as if it came in over the phone or any other channel, Blanco said. Importantly, the company's response can be kept in synch across media, he said. "If you only solve for social media, that's just as bad as only solving for voice."

Technology isn't necessarily the biggest challenge when it comes to managing social media effectively, Blanco said, so Avaya is also introducing a consulting practice aimed at helping companies formulate and execute a social media strategy.

Higinio Sanchez, CEO of Motiva Contact Centers, said his company has been using Social Media Manager as part of its work providing outsourced contact center services and will put the tighter integration with Aura to good use. Clients such as airlines want to avoid falling victim to a social media phenomenon like the United Breaks Guitars music videos created by a disgruntled customer, singer songwriter Dave Carroll.

In one contrasting example, Motiva agents were alerted when an unhappy customer who was trying to fly to visit his dying mother complained of being unable to get tickets. "We were able to answer back on Twitter, go to this counter, go to the front, see the lady at booth 20, and she will help you," Sanchez said. The man did later Tweet back his appreciation.

More typically, contact center agents are able to catch tweets from people who've lost their bags--and often reunite these flyers with their luggage, Sanchez said. "Sometimes they say thank you, and sometimes they don't say anything."

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