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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

UC-Enabled, Social, Customer Care

I have long been an advocate of UC-enabled self-service applications to offset the demands of expensive live assistance when not really necessary. Clearly, this was difficult to do with legacy telephony systems and call centers, but all that is changing with rapid consumer adoption of personalized, multi-modal smartphones and tablets, access to "mobile (online) apps," and social networking communities. 

Now, the challenge for all organizations is how to migrate gracefully from old call center technologies to the many benefits of what I have been calling the "UC Contact Center," which is evolving quickly in new, "cloud"- based environments.

Here is a brief post on that subject provided by Ashley Furness, a CRM Analyst with Software Advice

 How to Create an Effective Customer Care Community

Customer self-service communities are among the most effective means for cutting down help desk operational costs. But you can't just flip on the switch. Public knowledge bases, customer groups and discussion forums are useless if no one wants to use them.
This week Software Advice interviewed JD Peterson of Zendesk to find out what strategies companies can use to build an effective customer service community. Petersen recommended focusing on five concepts: usability, gamification, employee engagement, measurement and smooth integration with other customer service channels.

Think of usability as a science, rather than an art. Peterson recommends hiring a consultant or freelance usability expert who knows the specific places navigation signals should be placed to foster engagement--or where the customer natural gravitates to find service channels. This person should also consider titles and topics headings that are appealing and eye-catching, but also immediately meaningful to the visitor. 
"Don't guess with this kind of stuff. If you don't have usability experts internally, look for a partner or vendor that can drive those best practices… how to develop the structure of you community," Petersen said.

Gamification means adding elements of the gaming world to your community, such as leader boards and score boards. Developers should set up communities that award points or "badges" for actions such as answering another visitor's question, or voting on an answer from another user. This recognizes customers for their contribution.

In order for the self-service channel to work efficiently, Peterson recommends integrating with traditional service means. He calls this the "escape value."
"If I can't ultimately find the answer I am looking for I need an easy way to get from the community to another channel - phone, or email or live chat," he said.

Employee Engagement
Even if the community is focused on the user, customers will interact more if they know your company is actually listening. Staff should keep a close eye on discussions and chime in if the answer isn't available. Customer service staff can also pick up on valuable customer feedback that can then be shared with product and feature development teams.

Only way you will get an effective community is to continually improve it. This is best done through trial and error. Look for trends, such as which topics are getting the most comments and views, reoccurring negative feedback or hot topics people search.