Social Network based Caller Routing

Ok, let’s say you are searching the web for a new fishing rod. You find the right website but you are having trouble locating the right rod and reel combination. Frustrated you consider giving up but give it one last shot and decide to call the 800 number on the site. And instead of getting the usual IVR tree – you are prompted for your Facebook id.

What’s going on here you think?

Reluctantly you give them your Facebook id and behind the scenes there is technology at work that matches you up with the best Call Center agent based on your profile information: Age, Sex, Hometown, Current Location, and Interests.

Instantly you are matched up with someone who you can relate to. Someone who now can give you the best service and hence the best customer experience of your lifetime. They know exactly what would be best for you because they share the same interests or age bracket and can talk to the product in ways you never heard before coming from a call center agent. Maybe they know someone in your social network and can even broker a chat with them (live through Facebook) about their recommended rod and reel combo for you.

Sound a little like Star Trek?

Actually it sounds very doable. Technology like Facebook Connect or Facebook personal URLs are already available. We are just beginning to see that technology harnessed more broadly for the web. In fact I predict we will see it start to appear in Search, on Amazon.com, on YouTube and Microsoft Xbox – in some cases this has already begun!

So why isn’t your call center taking advantage of this data as well?

3 comments to Social Network based Caller Routing

  • Brent Rieck

    Sorry to come in a few days late..

    That's an interesting idea but being a consumer has taught me that calling an 800 number almost NEVER results in something good happening, hence I'd rather go without a particular fishing rod than call that number (nor would take the time to look up my Facebook id, but that's a different issue)

    I'd much rather optionally sign into the site using something like Facebook connect, and after browsing aimlessly around for a bit be prompted to have a support agent contact me via chat (or phone, should I desire), enabling the site to datamine my social network that way.

    But that brings me to what may be the problem – at least from my perspective – Facebook (and other social media sites) are actively subverting the notion of "friendship", I regularly get friend requests from people I happen to meet at an industry event, or are clients, or are coworkers, etc. It's very unlikely that many (or any) of these people are my friends but it seems rude to not agree to be their "friend", particularly when you have a business relationship with them. So now I have (lets say) a couple hundred "friends", only 16 of which are people that I actually want to spend time with and share some aspects of life with, and I find it unlikely that an algorithm could figure out who's who so I could get a support agent who I can better connect with.

  • Paul Dunay

    @ Brent – you raise a number of really interesting issues – so thanks for reaching out

    I REALLY like the idea of chat thru Facebook as opposed to the 800 number plus your Facebook id (which is the vanity URL land grab that everyone was doing a week ago – so not that hard to look up – mine is http://www.facebook.com/pauldunay)

    as far as the "Friends" issue – that is actually the purpose of Facebook right – to keep connection to folks who you don't necessarily want to have over for dinner but don't mind hearing about their new baby or that they went to Def Lepard last night (sorry Sandra 😉

    but I hear you – I think the value is also in the agent seeing good data on who you are, as well as your friends, but also what you have been posting and talking about too

  • Chris

    To loosely paraphrase the great American historian and former Librarian of Congress, Daniel J. Boorstin, “Every advancement in technology brings us closer to those whom we are distant, but distances those with whom we are close.”

    While I embrace new technology and the web 2.0/social media phenomenon, I can’t help but notice what a huge personal time commitment it represents. Authoring and commenting on my blog, maintaining one’s profile in LinkedIn and Facebook, and Tweeting on Twitter (something I have yet to realize the value)—to name just a few—consumes an enormous amount of personal time. As a family man, I have to say my family life and close personal friends have taken a hit with my social media involvement.

    If I’m interesting in buying the latest fishing rod (not a stretch for me—I love fly fishing) and can’t find what I want online, I’d rather pick up the phone and speak to a live human being. Companies that still champion the concept of Outstanding Customer Service (like Columbia Sportswear and the HP Store) don’t sell-out to quasi-support tools like Live Chat, FAQ knowledgebases, and Facebook profiles.

    Brent—you’re right, we have come to dread call an 800 number, knowing the person on the other end probably knows less about the product in question than you do, but isn’t it refreshing when you do get resolution with a live human that truly takes an interest in your needs? These are the companies and brands that earn my business.

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