BPOs Eye Social Media


Social Media And BPOs: A Perfect Combination?

A social media strategy has now become a survival tool for almost all corporate companies. To everyone’s surprise it’s proving to be a game changer in the BPO industry too, as companies are increasingly feeling the need to track social media conversations to understand consumer preferences and their perceptions towards products and services.

But why?

Basically there has been a shift in the way customers engage with companies; a shift from telephones and email to social networks and mobile applications.

Every corporate wants to know how, when and why they are being mentioned on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, by different consumers. And BPOs are helping them monitor exactly that.

According to a report in the Economic Times dated July 5, BPOs such as Aditya Birla Minacs, Firstsource and Aegis are now proactively offering to monitor social media, and reaching out through platforms including Twitter and Facebook.

On one hand, there is Aditya Birla Minacs that has invested 11 million dollars in social media-related services, and offers key-word monitoring and reputation management services for five customers (currently) and is in discussions with 12 others. And on the other hand, Firstsource runs social media forums for its clients, where customers can engage in discussions about the products or services.

In the year, 2011, India’s largest BPO, GenPact, acquired EmPower Research, an integrated media and business research company with capabilities in social media research, media monitoring and measurement for an undisclosed amount.

Soon after, Mumbai-based BPO provider 24/7 Customer announced their plans to hire over 5,000 social and interactive media (SIM) advisors in India.

Other BPO providers who have already taken a step into social media management services include Wipro, Teleperformance and contact centre outsourcing firm, Sitel.

When it comes to business, from launching to marketing to receiving feedback from customers, social media has been an immense platform.

According to the “2012 Social Media Marketing Industry Report” by Social Media Examiner, the traditional “big three” social networks, Facebook (92 percent), Twitter (82 percent), and LinkedIn (73 percent) are frequently used by social media marketers and 30 percent of participants were outsourcing some of their social media efforts. And according to a famous research and analytics site, gartner.com, by the end of the year 2015, refusing to communicate by social media will be as damaging to a company’s reputation and customer service levels as ignoring an email or phone call is in today’s times.

That means BPO providers must hire and train the right people to manage these evolving communication channels because a good telephone agent isn’t necessarily a good social media agent.

As John Bryson, Director, Product Management, Sitel rightly points out in this article, “Social inquiries require immediate action. The inability to respond quickly and effectively turns to customer remorse, reputational damage and lost sales opportunities.”

In other words, in the social world, poor responses have the potential to go viral which is why social agents need to be well trained and highly skilled.

According to Datamark’s top ten BPO trends in 2013, competitive BPOs will try and control global centers and customer-contact reps with multiple language skills to deliver 24/7/365 customer service via Facebook, Twitter and other channels, bringing home to clients some weekend peace of mind.

How This Works:

The three business requirements of social media are

  1. Listening to conversations
  2. Deep customer analytics and
  3. Responding to conversation

All of which can be provided as a service. And this is where BPOs are seeing a business opportunity, as they can help their clients without them having to worry about hiring or investing in new resources to gain attraction on social media.

For instance, if there is a BPO company and its client is a telecom company, then any item or comment posted on social media (Google Plus, Facebook, Twitter, etc) will be monitored by the BPO . The telecom company will also be able to identify new trends among their customers via social networking sites and analyze the latest requirements of the consumers.

Katrina Menzigian, Vice President, Everest Group also notes that while testing product ideas in the market or hearing about poor service is an obvious use of the web, what’s newer is finding out from your customers how well your finance process is working.

“For example, if your business offers a product rebate and nobody receives their checks, your customers could be ranting about this online. Your BPO service provider could be part of the solution by using intelligence coming in from the market to figure out why those checks aren’t going out. In this example the monitoring connects the consumer experience back to an internal process in a way that really hasn’t been seen until now,” is what she explains in her blog post.

So while it lessens the burden on corporates to adopt large capital-intensive structure, a well-placed BPO service provider can help a company to focus on selling and growing their business.  They look after social media elements, providing the infrastructure, processes, technology and intelligence to interpret customer data analytics and respond accordingly.

But is this a smart move? What do you think?

Shraddha Jandial

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