The word social has taken on so many meanings in the past few years that the word itself can create confusion. Try tying it to the value to be created and you’ve added more confusion. Let’s define it by its basic elements:

  • Social = the wisdom of crowds
  • Social is about trust, trusted sources, verified sources
  • Social is about finding the people who know what you need to know
  • Social is about what people think

Consumers use social content for all kinds of activities, from shopping decisions to where invest. It all starts with an Internet search –  but generally only to locate a site that has consolidated the information they need – such as a Yahoo:Finance site. There they would enter a stock ticker symbol or name, and view the resulting 360-view of, for example, GE, as a possible investment. They would see stock price, price history over time, key ratios and statistics, news and related blogs, similar stocks they may want to invest in, analysts covering GE, and more. They can navigate through this view, and dive into any of the related materials. Same for online shopping, even for looking up a friend on Facebook, where they would see their friend, recent activities, their friend’s friends, groups, news, and more. Consumers expect this immediate, concise, 360 degree view of information that’s important to them – all within seconds.

And yet, when these same individuals go to a company’s corporate website to find out what’s going on with their recent product challenge, they often are faced with either a single search box which might bring back a list of related information or documents that they would need to read through to find their answer, or having to pick up the phone to call, or, if they have an initial issue to register, adding that to a not-very-user-friendly interface, and just receiving confirmation that it was received. No wonder they will often search the Internet and social media channels, to see if anyone else has faced their issue, and find out how to solve it, quickly, if possible. What happens when they find some answers on the Internet, then need some further clarification and call your contact center? They may be better armed with information than the agent they speak with possesses. If that’s the case, they will lose respect and trust for the agent, as well as for your company overall.

That’s social. And, it has important implications for your contact center, your company’s brand, and your company’s revenue, as the consumerization of corporate purchasing and technology continues.

So what can be done about it? There are technologies available for inside the enterprise that create similar types of interactive “views,” or dashboards containing information mashups, for your customers, agents, managers/executives – really for any constituency. Thankfully for IT, this doesn’t require a rip and replace strategy, rather it involves optimizing the systems and information that you already have within and access external to your organization.

Coveo’s Enterprise Search 2.0 Platform powers these solutions, and by power we mean stitch together the information by pulling data and knowledge from virtually any system into a central, unified index. This contains both structured and unstructured information. In effect, it is using the knowledge of everyone who creates content or interacts with it. From the central index, 360 views of the information important to a certain constituency, such as customers, or agents, are configured, providing near real-time access to the most recent information, in a format which is easy to understand, and interactive, meaning the user can explore the information, interact with it, and follow it. The user can even find experts they can reach out to for help. It’s like navigating to different sites on the Internet, and yet all the information that is returned to you is contextually relevant, timely, and helps the user conduct the task he or she is attempting to accomplish, whether that is solving an issue for a customer, or looking at customer base trends. It’s what your employees and your customers have come to expect in the enterprise and from their vendors, based on their consumer experiences on the public web.

This information doesn’t actually move from the system in which it resides; it stays there. So the central index includes information from online social communities, where customers may be talking about a certain product, or reacting to a new product; to a CRM system, knowledge base, financial systems, cloud-based systems and those inside the firewall as well. This is crowd-sourcing at its best, leveraging the collective knowledge that has been created, and also identifying the creator for additional knowledge sharing. Looking at customer trends, product trends, etc., provides the type of analytics that can move companies forward. Knowing more than what the customer knows when he or she calls your contact center can move customer relationships to the next level, and ensure continued goodwill which will result in a better brand and additional revenue in the future.

Interested in discussing this further? Please join Coveo on Thursday, June 9th at 12:00 pm ET, and our guest Paul Greenberg, the “godfather of CRM” and best-selling author, as we discuss what social means to B2B customer service and how the best performing companies are incorporating these channels into 360 views of customer information. You can register for this free webinar here.