My Internet connection over Comcast had been having issues for months, but I was unwilling to face the dreaded tech support phone tree. So I complained – to myself – and continued to suffer.
One day, I was frustrated enough to take my complaints to Twitter. It took just two tweets for @ComcastBonnie to respond. She tested my connection remotely and found it was weak. Not long afterwards, tech support came out, the connection was fixed and I was a very happy customer.
As a member of Cisco’s Social Media Communications team, I’m well aware of the power of social media. This week, I had the chance to explore how social media is changing customer service – and how customer service needs to evolve – with two experts: Comcast’s Martin (Marty) Marcinczyk, vice president, National Customer Operations, and Cisco’s John Hernandez, vice president and general manager of the Customer Collaboration business unit.
“Ten years ago, if a consumer had poor experience with a product or service, they’d tell the people they know,” says Hernandez. “With social media, customers can share an experience, whether good or bad, with hundreds or even thousands of people.”
Comcast, which is known as a pioneer in this area, and other businesses have responded by using social media to interact with customers. Currently, Comcast uses an aggregator to collect all feeds that mention the company, and a supervisor distributes customer queries to one of its dedicated social media agents.
“To date we have been successful handling our customers’ issues over social media means. However, as we increase these types of transactions, we are concerned that current technologies will not scale to meet our business needs,” Marcinczyk says. “We’re also concerned that our traditional contact channels like phone and chat are not fully integrated with these new contact channels. If you didn’t get your question resolved on Twitter and you then call tech support, the agent may not know you’re on Twitter.”
Hernandez agrees. “We need to think about social media as just one channel for customer care. It needs to be integrated into your contact center so you connect all methods of customer communication – phone, chat, email and social media.”
In November, Cisco will introduce technology that’s designed to help businesses do just that. The idea is that if you’ve been Tweeting about a problem and then reach the call center, the agent knows why you’re calling and some of the history behind your issue.
The goal, says Hernandez, is to make it possible for companies to better anticipate customer needs, more easily help customers and capture knowledge that’s shared as part of a customer interaction.
The technology includes video as well, so rather than having a support agent verbally describe how to reset your modem, for example, you’d be able watch a video on your mobile device that shows you how. At the same time, you could share a video that shows the agent the problem you’re having.
Marcinczyk says he ultimately hopes to have a real-time view of each customer interaction and how agents are supporting that interaction. Ideally, either Comcast or the customer would have the ability to shift from one channel to the other – from online channels to phone, for example. And it would all be connected to his customer database so agents know something about the customer.
“I want to be able to look at my overall business and know how best to serve each customer,” he says.
Want to find out more about how social media is changing customer service? You can comment or ask questions starting at 9 a.m. PT Sept. 1 when Marcinczyk joins Hernandez for a live broadcast. I’ll post a recording of that broadcast in case you miss it.
Here is recording of 9/1 broadcast. Thanks for tuning in: