Guest post from Haytham Yassine, Software Engineer, IBM Social Media Analytics
Social media is not only a growing aspect of our daily personal lives, but also a key dimension for many successful business processes.
As a software engineer on IBM’s exciting social media analytics solution, IBM Cognos Consumer Insight, my interest and appreciation for social media knows no bounds.
I’m currently pursuing my MBA degree at the Telfer School of Management at the University of Ottawa. As part of the overarching division of Business Analytics at IBM, I’ve tried my best to relate between the material I learn in class and my career.
This semester I have a new challenge. In my Operations Management class (MBA5280B), I was tasked with an assignment to analyze a process and improve it.
I’m not a big fan of call centers and I firmly believe businesses should stop imposing their traditional models of service and start utilizing market-driven media of conversation for their business processes.
Just last month, I read a rhetorical blog posted by Brian Solis from Altimeter Group. It really intrigued me, particularly because the Extreme Blue (IBM's internship program for students pursuing software development and MBA degrees) project we planned out for the summer heavily addresses this space.
Solis’ blog helps highlight, in an exaggerated fashion, the frustrating traditional process of reporting a product or service complaint. I highly recommend reading this post as it provides a great introduction to the process reinvention I’m putting forth.
Not only that, the format I’m adopting in my blog takes the shape of a response to the original “Dear customer” tagline.
Although I would love to explore numerous processes that could be improved by using social media analytics, I will limit this article to the following: analyzing the call center process for reporting a product complaint and improving it by transposing it onto a “smarter” social media engagement workflow.
Here we go…
Dear customer relations manager at (fictional company) XYZ,
I am writing to express my dissatisfaction, not with your products and services, but with the process you employ for people like me to voice their concerns about these very products and services. You emailed me recently asking that I go through the standard call center process for reporting a complaint or asking a how-to, and here I am instead going through the “very standard” social media channels.
Why, you ask?
It’s because I’m one of the millions of consumers out there who have grown fond of using social media for gathering buying decision information and venting experiences and reviews in return. It’s a vicious cycle, you know. Oh, and by the way, I hope you have a reliable social media analytics solution in place to pick up this blog; I won’t be picking up the phone and calling your hot line.
Your process is not only inefficient and painful, but it’s also missing on countless opportunities in the social media space. I’ll start off by analyzing the current process. Below is a simplified chart that highlights the various activities involved.
The process can be categorized as a service shop, where high customer involvement meets moderate-length service encounters and immediate delivery is expected at the end of the process.
I’ve highlighted in red the most problematic activities in the process chart and, as you can see, most of the complexity lies in the customer space. You’ll notice I’ve excluded transfer activities from the chart to make things simple; in reality, these do exist and they add to the encounter’s length and the customer’s frustration.
Here is a list, by no means exhaustive, of the issues I see with the current process:
· Increased customer effort in various activities, complicating the interaction
· Customers have to actively wait in queues for service, extending the service encounter
· Duplication and inefficiency – same inputs being requested/processed at multiple phases
· Multiple transfers may be required
· Potential peak capacity concerns
· Under utilization during low periods
· Agents pressured to provide quality output based on unknown inputs on the spot
· Lack of proactive quality control on process output
· Lost opportunities in customers hanging up
Of course, like a traditional call center, I’m not here to just offer my complaints. I do have a solution.
Click here for part 2 of the suggested process redesign.
In the meantime, please watch an online demo of IBM Cognos Consumer Insight in action.