Contact Center Redefined

Contact centers have been defined as the part of the organization that handles the systematic, one-on-one communication with the customer/prospect base. That would be opposed to PR, which handles the mass communication. With me so far?

So, what do you think of this: I can follow the CEO of http://www.bluefly.com/ on Twitter, and if I have a question, I can Tweet him directly and yep, he’ll tweet me back! Cool, huh?

Also, Commodore Dave, from the website http://www.tripharbor.com/, blogs directly from the deck of luxury cruise ships. If I have a question about a cruise (like if I want him to ask the captain something for me), I can reply to his blog and he’ll get right back to me – responding directly from the cruise I might be interested in purchasing. Also, very cool.

So given the above definition of contact center, are the two individuals referenced above, whom I contacted using “Social Media,” now part of their respective organization’s contact centers? I say they are.

For smaller companies that may not have a huge customer base, this kind of ready access to all points of the company is manageable. But what about larger organizations that handle tens of thousands of customer interactions every month, or every week? How can they possibly be expected to handle the huge amount of dialogue that is so department specific via various forms of social media?

This is the challenge, and the opportunity, for call centers today. Thanks to social media, the way customers/prospects contact brands is changing fast, and call centers need to help manage that change or be left out of the conversation. Social Media can be considered the “phone” of the tomorrow (and increasingly, today) where brand dialogue is concerned, so contact centers need to be leading the charge for customer dialogue using these channels.

What that means for the traditional call center is that portions of their staff will need to go beyond traditional “customer service representatives,” and become genuine brand ambassadors. And no more faking. These folks will need to be fanatics about the brand they’re representing in the social media space in order to be considered authentic.

So, http://www.tripharbor.com/, if you need any brand ambassadors to answer blog questions from the deck of a luxury cruise ship, you know where to find me! :-)

Thanks for reading! Comments and questions welcome.

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  • http://blog.vipdesk.com Erika Blanchard

    Pat,
    Great post – and so very true! Typical CSRs won’t make it in the future – their words, tone and actions will be (if not already) on public display – Companies will have to make better decisions and put Brand Ambassadors (the right people) in place to represent their brand – or face the oh-so-social consequences!