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Friends close, staff closer in your contact centre

01 Feb 2011

It is valuable to use the criterion of preferred tools and preferred communication styles. As your call centre strategies and choices are customer-centric, you should match preferences of the external and internal customer.

Social media-enabled call centres that use the communications channels your customers innately use, also dictate your call centre staffing choices. For example, Facebook- frequenting customers will enjoy service on Facebook. Innate Facebook users in your teams are Gen Y and female Baby Boomers.

Tactical ability with tools will be less important as the use of these becomes as commonplace as email use. The overriding focus is on candidates’ ability to communicate well through the channels with which they are most comfortable.

Candidate criteria

Recruitment for social media customer services roles in the social media-enabled contact centre should consider:

  • Natural preferred communication style – verbal or written?
  • Sales and nurture style – up-sell or nurture?
  • Channels – does your candidate prefer written, email, chatroom, phone, SMS, Twitter, Facebook? Which channels are they active in and understand thoroughly?
  • Customer service style – what is the track record of your candidates?
  • Personality traits – privacy aware, brand reputation aware, empathy, discretion (what and when to respond to ‘grey area’ communication).
  • Business savvy – acute awareness of how communication impacts on company brand.
  • Company culture – culture fit is vital for a unified brand message to be part of the customer service person’s psyche.
Call Centre Social Media Analyst – using conversation  ‘listening tools’, monitoring conversation trends, conversation initiation and lead capture, product / brand / industry / competitor monitoring. Analysing sales funnels. Maximise the use of ROI reporting tools. Responsibilities include reporting and tweaking activity and campaigns to maximise eventual ROI.

The Social Media Outbound Channel Manager role is for the sociable, relationship-focused opportunity channeller to develop lead generation and sales opportunities.

Remember that social media’s leaders are Baby Boomers and Gen X. Ageist recruitment of youth has no longevity in matching corporate needs to a leadership pathway.

Recruitment tips: A case study:

Recently ASB created a world first by launching its Virtual Bank on Facebook. It incorporates chat on Facebook, and you can apparently achieve anything you might want to do through usual banking options.

I interviewed Anna Curzon, General Manager Internet Banking at ASB Bank, about its recent journey. These are some recruitment tip gems from our conversation:

Be strategic. Plan well. What do you want and need to achieve? What is happening in your market environment that requires social media? What ROI benefits can you gain? What would creating a social media community provide, or add value that your current communications methods can’t?

Recruit from within your own corporate community. Trusted advisors are chosen from within corporate teams for the social media-enabled call centre. In launching Virtual Bank, ASB accepted expressions of interest that were sourced from its branches and customer services team.

"Look for the customer services staff who consistently deliver great engagement and a customer experience,” suggests Curzon. "That way you can reach just the right people to build your ideal team. We were inundated with responses as the role was so innovative – a world first.”

Check candidates’ social media habits. On which social media are they active and have outstanding skills? Mainly you will find their messages on Twitter and Facebook, and possibly on LinkedIn.

Find your customer service stars with social media skills. What is the calibre of their messages? Look for an ability to create great copy (pithy messages that carry the essence well). What is their frequency of communication? What is their sociability level online? You are looking for people who are innately sociable and very at home with online communication. They are team players offline.

Let your organisation be one that social media fits well. Develop your social media strategy by filling gaps in customer needs. Focus on what will best serve your community of customers. Organisations where openness and conversations are as natural as breathing are the best fit for social media adoption.

Candidates who work well with social media are those who fit an open, transparent environment where being part of conversation is part of the DNA. Listen and journey with your customers. Innovation into social media is a journey to involve your customer. You are accessible where your customer wants to find you. It is the ultimate in creating a place for customers to want to belong. Conversation with them about your journey creates opportunities to tweak your strategy, learn from mistakes, and evolve the product and service with which you want your community to connect.

"Involving the community and learning from the community means that you all get more out of it than any perceived risk,” says Curzon.

"You are striving for developing a partnership with your community. It’s a conversation-listen-develop-conversation-refine-conversation model that really works. We’ve used this model for developing innovation. You can achieve a high level of confidence of a successful product development and launch and get quality intelligence. Social media is all about listening.”

Thanks to Anna Curzon (ASB), Tania Howard (Talent Seed) and Keiron Lawson (Datasquirt), for sharing their experience in social media call centre recruiting, serving IT needs of social media- enabled call centres, and using social media for recruitment.