Vodafone has announced plans to integrate social media inquiries into its regular customer service systems by March 2012, but it will be limited to Twitter and Facebook for now.
Vodafone will upgrade from the Genesys 6.5 system on top of a Rockwell PABX system to Genesys 8.1 by March, the company's head of contact centre systems and telephony Lee Challoner-Miles told ZDNet Australia. Challoner-Miles said the upgrade would allow the company's contact centre staff to respond to inquiries from Twitter, Facebook and the company's customer forum, where previously this was only handled by Vodafone's dedicated social media team.
"By using more universal queue management, we can leverage our workforce at a better scale," he said. "At the moment they're ring-fenced."
Challoner-Miles said that this would allow Vodafone to manage workload better, and although the social media work will now also be handled by contact centre staff, the social media team would still be the primary port of call.
"The social media team will still obviously be the prime. The individuals use their own name within social media," he said. "There's no staffing changes, we can just open up those channels to our wider staffing."
For social media inquiries, Vodafone has two methods of determining actual customer inquiries — the automated Radian6 social media monitoring tool and the dedicated social media staff.
"One is an automated system so it can just go through and pick out keywords and try to pick up the intent of what the customer is trying to say, we also then put that through to our social team who then actively look at all of the comments via Twitter or Facebook."
These inquiries are added to the universal queue, which Genesys then prioritises against those taken by phone, email or SMS depending on the nature and the urgency of the inquiry.
Although Genesys has recently moved to incorporate social media in its contact centre software, Challoner-Miles said that Vodafone would continue to use Radian6 for social media and just use Genesys for universal queuing. He said that other social networks such as Google+ would soon be incorporated into the Radian6 software in the near future, but that a number of social media websites such as Whirlpool required manual monitoring by staff.
"Purely because of the threads that can occur. Obviously with Twitter it is a single comment, but with Whirlpool it can then grow ... and they can be pages and pages long and we can be mentioned halfway through the thread or right at the very end. There is a lot more manual intervention," he said.
While trends towards social media for customer inquires were on the rise, Challoner-Miles said that voice calls were still the high portion of the inquiries directed to the telecommunications company.