I hear a lot of talk about the impact of social media on customer service and the contact center. My research into customer relationship maturity shows much of this is only talk. The research shows that while many companies have rushed to create a Twitter handle and a Facebook page and put video on YouTube, most are struggling to integrate social media into their customer service or more broadly their customer engagement strategy and processes.
I think that many overlook that social media is a communications channel, it but it has two crucial differences from the channels they are used to using: It is not under the company’s control, and its communications are not one-to-one but one-to-many. Nevertheless, they do have to integrate social media with all other channels and customer engagement processes. Consumer research I have seen lately shows that organizations are struggling with this aspect – for example, an estimated 70 percent of complaints on Twitter go unanswered.
Social Dynamx is an emerging vendor that may help change this. It was founded in early 2011, brought its first product to market at the end of the same year and already has a distinguished list of clients. We analysts love to put products into categories, and I’d call Social Dynamx, which is also the product name, a smart agent desktop that is socially enabled because the primary input is data extracted from social media. It supports a full Twitter fire hose that captures Twitter data in real time, along with data from other selected social media platforms. Users create a dictionary of words they want to spot, and using this information the product categorizes posts and matches them to posts containing similar words. Built-in rules then allow the product to prioritize posts and allocate them to users designated to deal with these types. Social Dynamx calls the system “self-learning,” which means it can improve categorization and routing based on past performance. The product includes capabilities to integrate with other data stores so its data can be enhanced with other customer data, such as customer demographic details. All this information is presented to the agent or other person handling the post on a Facebook-like desktop, thus making it familiar for users to navigate. The desktop can display links to sources to help resolve an issue, such as previous interactions made by the customer so responses can be made in the context of the overall customer relationship, and metrics so employees and managers can see how well they are performing. Users can respond either through the same social media channel, through email or by creating an action item in a CRM system. This closes the loop and thus builds social media into the customer engagement process.
The Social Dynamx desktop also can be configured for users at different levels, so for example a supervisor’s desktop might show what each member of the team is doing, which posts are being handled and which are still in the queue, and team-related metrics. Alternatively, a senior manager might have a desktop just showing overall metrics and trends. Regardless of configuration, users can drill down into detailed information if they like.
Another advantage of this desktop is that it supports collaboration. For example, agents assigned to different queues can be grouped into teams, and a team can share information and collaborate in resolving customer or performance issues. I understand this feature will be extended to back-office workers later in the fall; that will help companies support handling interactions across the enterprise, a feature that my research into customer relationship maturity shows is a growing requirement.
The Social Dynamx software is available in the cloud, so approved users can log on regardless of where they are located, which addresses the ever-increasing need to support mobile or at-home agents. The system is designed to be highly scalable, which will be tested as it gains more customers and users.
Ventana Research believes that social media, mobility and collaboration are three key technologies that will enable organizations to meet new, demanding operational requirements, and help them innovate in their processes. Social media is one of the most disruptive technologies impacting customer service and engagement, so it is something I am tracking in my research agenda. Social Dynamx is an emerging vendor that offers the opportunity for companies to get a grip on social customer service, so it is one I will be watching, and I recommend you do the same.
Richard J. Snow
VP & Research Director