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Telcos urged to 'outsource' customer service to customers

04 августа 2010

Telecoms operators must take advantage of social media channels to serve customers better at a lower cost, and some are showing the rest the way, Capgemini noted.

"Telcos have been trying to improve customer service, and therefore lower churn, while trying to take the cost out of it, and there's an ongoing battle about how to do both at the same time," said Laurence Buchanan, head of CRM and social CRM at Capgemini.

"Some operators are going out and proactively engaging their customers using social media," Buchanan told Total Telecom on Monday, while "others are doing so out of fear of the negative potential of a 'Twitter storm' – a wave of negative publicity that can be sparked by a single Tweet."

Websites like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube have caused an enormous balance of power shift towards the consumer, enabling them to "interact with an organisation through their chosen channel, on their terms," Buchanan said.

Some players are moving quickly to turn this power shift to their advantage.

Buchanan singled out Giffgaff as an operator setting the early pace. The SIM-only MVNO and O2 UK subsidiary incentivises its customers to participate in its CRM activities by giving people credit in return for answering other users' technical support questions via an online forum.

"Answers can be audited by trained customer service staff, but it's conceivable that eventually the community itself takes on the responsibility for governance," he said.

"It's ground-breaking. They have about 14 staff in total and they're trying to outsource CRM to their customers," he added.

According to Buchanan, just 1% of forum users need to be active in order for the community to thrive.

"90% of people who visit community sites are known as lurkers, who will search for answers but won't ever post anything," he said.

"9% of people will submit the odd question, but it only takes 1% of the user base to be active users to make a healthy forum," Buchanan said.

Meanwhile bigger telcos can afford to channel more resource into social CRM.

"Technology today will allow [companies] to pick up on keywords in online social interactions; it's purely a business decision whether they choose to respond or not," said Buchanan, who noted that BT employs around 12 staff to monitor Twitter and initiate conversations with customers when appropriate.

"For large telecom operators, traditional channels like helplines and Websites won't go away," he continued.

"But sites like Twitter enable them to positively respond in the consumer's channel of choice and put out sparks before they become flames."

Источник: Total Telecom

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