Historically, answering services have mainly been tasked with answering calls and dispatching messages. In a typical answering service arrangement, an organization could have operators take messages from the caller and send them by email to the appropriate recipient. In other cases, depending on the customer’s specifications, the call center will patch calls through to individual staff in emergency situations, for example. More advanced call center services may include telephone order taking, help desk support, and live dispatch. Some centers have the ability to receive and respond to emails, but usually do not provide many other services that aren’t telephone-based.
With the recent growth and development of social media, many call centers are beginning to train their staff to accommodate new forms of communication.To some, adapting operator-based call center services to support things like Facebook and Twitter may seem awkward at best. After all, they may say, call centers are designed to be economical sources of phone support for organizations; a way for businesses to reduce the amount of expensive resources they need to spend on sporadic yet routine communication tasks. Call centers help their users by keeping them in contact with their customers, allowing them to respond to opportunities and threats in a timely manner.
The truth is, however, that social media is increasingly becoming a part of routine marketing and customer service communication. Many feel that call centers are in an especially unique position to provide cost-effective solutions to companies that are just beginning to understand the implications of social media, but are inexperienced in managing them. In much the same way call centers help plan and manage the phone and email aspects of a company’s CRM strategy, they could just as easily educate their users of the importance of establishing and sustaining a social media presence as well.
In practice, call centers are given to providing support in some certain social media venues more so than others. One function a call center might serve is in monitoring Twitter for reports of issues related to a company’s products or services. Because Tweets by their very nature are off-the-cuff, timely statements that can easily be categorized, it is possible to be made aware of potential problems sooner than when they appear in more traditional media such as news reports. Using a call center to identify customer dissatisfaction quickly, a company is afforded opportunities to address it sooner and, ideally, before it spreads further.