Social Media in the Contact Center: Beyond the tools. Before the tactics.

This week, I had the pleasure of guest posting my review of social media monitoring vendor Radian6 on one of my favorite blogs hosted by John F Moore.

As I detailed in that post, the focus of my evaluation of the social media monitoring space, and my recommendation to others, goes beyond features and functions of the software.  Because the landscape is changing so fast, vendors are going to either catch up to the leaders or disappear.  So, in that post, I outlined other criteria I recommend weighting heavier in your analysis.

But, even beyond those criteria, its not the tools or the tactics that will set your organization up for success here.  As social media is so in our faces as customer service pros now, it can be a bit overwhelming.  As such, many folks are focusing on tactics and technology.  While these are important, it’s my opinion that these decisions need to be addressed in the context of a higher level strategic framework.  Take comfort, however in the fact that, if this is where you’ve started, you’re not alone.  Most every organization I spoke with over the past six months is reacting to the hype and uncertainty by trying to put tools and tactics in place as to not be left behind. 

So, before looking at technology, the organization needs to develop a detailed strategy, starting with answering the question: “why do we need to be doing this?”.  “Are our customers even in the social space?”  Your customer service social strategy, which should be in lock step with your corporate strategy, needs to be followed by detailed business plans.

  • What is your social ecosystem?
  • What is your social architecture?
  • What architecture do you need to build?
  • What is your social CRM and data integration strategy and plan

Simple questions like “what is a contact” are not so simple any more when we start to talk about social contacts or passive contacts.

  • What will be your soical KPIs?
  • How will you organize around social?
  • What is your social technographic profile among your customer service personnel 

For more information on social technographic profile, refer to Forrester’s Groundswell.

Not to boil the ocean here.  But with scarce resources, answers to these questions will be the foundation of your success.

If your organization has these things nailed down, then good for you!  You are way ahead of the curve.  Because lets not forget.  While I believe social is here to stay, we’re still in our infancy.  If you think, however, that there still may be some gaps, and your organization is committed to weaving social into the operational and cultural fabric of your customer service business, taking a step back, or at least figuring these things out in parallel would be my recommendation.


  1. I love the way you think. There are so many considerations one needs to factor in before deciding upon a social media monitoring tool. First and foremost is the culture of the company. What objectives and strategies will be measured? How are relationships being nurtured now. Really appreciate your insights.

    Lauren Vargas
    Community Manager at Radian6

  2. Lauren,
    Thrilled you stopped by (you guys are putting out so much good thought capital on this subject). I agree. If you believe this stuff isn't going away, it needs to be approached with a sound business planning and strategy development process. I attended a presentation yesterday where I heard of a healthcare company spending the last year just listening in on Twitter while they build their strategy. Very pragmatic and it's now humming along.

    And culture! right. That's the real sticky one. Cultural fit. Cultural impact. Shift in power among employees (The fresh college grads getting hired at senior levels because they understand this stuff intuitively). How is that going to rock the corporate hierarchy!?!

    thanks again for your comment.

  3. Great post, Barry. Your blog entries are really resonating with me – especially once I read the line "painted into the cost of doing business corner" on your "knock kneed" post. :) I'm a technical writer and recently published the book, Conversation and Community: The Social Web for Documentation that describes strategies for technical writers but it sounds like it's spot on for customer service (esp. when technical information is needed for service!) Keep up the great posts.

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