Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, chat, and other social outlets offer companies unprecedented opportunities for both internal and external collaboration to create, share, publish, and mine data. But data in and of itself—without a structure and strategy around it—is of no true value. Organizations—especially those that are customer facing—need tools to help them strategically tap into and manage social data to derive business value from it. They need the means to transform their big social data into actionable big knowledge that can be used to improve operational performance.
The Social Status Quo
Creating and leveraging social data for business value—building big knowledge—is both an opportunity and challenge to the customer-facing enterprise. Social networks provide fresh, cost-effective forums with which organizations can measure, manage, and drive customer interactions, ranging from prospecting to service to sales. It's a rich new source for data creation and collaboration that, managed properly, can harness the expertise of an entire enterprise for problem solving. Yet the very pervasiveness of social data can be daunting to organizations that want to tap into it. External and internal communities—customers, partners, and employees—are using social media to discuss, collaborate, inform, and question, and are doing so across the full range of media, all in real time. There isn't a single entity or person creating, curating, or disseminating all the data on social channels, often making it maddeningly difficult to know where information originated or resides.
Social networks have raised the responsiveness bar to new heights. Accustomed to social media's fast pace, its diverse communication options, and rich information, customers are demanding that companies respond more rapidly and accurately across social and traditional channels—essentially expecting large organization resources delivered with small organization agility. Clearly, contact center and other customer service staff don't have all the answers, and need time to source them. In fact according to a ThinkJar study, nearly 26 percent of customer inquiries require contact center staff to escalate an issue in order to find the resolution. Organizations need the means to go beyond information silos and tap into the collective expertise of the entire enterprise to find answers. Once information is located, companies need the tools to validate it before it goes public, lest they risk customer ill will, regulatory noncompliance, or worse.
Harnessing Social Media to Create Knowledge
So how can organizations grapple with the momentous tasks of capturing, organizing, and validating social data quickly and knowledgably? Organizations that want to transform their social data into big knowledge should consider the following tools and methodologies:
- Discover subject matter expertise and leverage it through internal social communities. Find, attract, and retain subject matter experts by rewarding them.
- Create, enhance, and publish content using internal and external platforms such as blogs and microblogs, wikis, internal discussion forums, and customer communities.
- Use tools such as expertise locators, information ratings, and reputation mechanisms to identify, develop, and vet content.
- Consider and act on feedback gleaned from taking part in customer conversations. Combine customer insights with that of employees to gain a complete full-circle view. Use these insights to develop rich knowledgebases and content repositories with tools for authoring and editorial workflows.
- Once content has been created, verify and certify it using workflow and approval tools. This can be very important from a regulatory and compliance point of view.
- Employ search and indexing capabilities that allow queries to be run against internal knowledgebases and external content.
- Help agents and customers rapidly resolve issues with such resolution workflow tools as decision trees and wizards.
Social networks pose challenges, but also provide rich opportunities for organizations to enhance customer interactions and drive business value. The full range of data gleaned from social networks, both within and outside of a company, needs to be harnessed, optimized, and redistributed to be truly valuable. By applying the right strategies, tools, and methodologies, companies can create value, thereby transforming big social data into big knowledge.
Nikhil Govindaraj is the vice president of products at Moxie Software. He is responsible for all aspects of product management and engineering, including strategy, design, development, and quality assurance.