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8x8 partners with Conversocial for contact center social media

UC service provider 8x8 is partnering with Conversocial to offer contact center social media options to connect with customers.

8x8 Inc., a provider of cloud-based unified communications for contact centers, has partnered with social customer service provider Conversocial to give customers the option of delivering customer service over social media.

The partnership reflects a trend among UC buyers to communicate with customers through social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+, subsequently creating a need to understand contact center social media engagement.

In announcing the partnership Wednesday, 8x8 said an increasing number of companies are transferring the responsibility of managing social media interactions to call centers.

"Businesses can now embrace social media, together with phone, email and chat, as a scalable, secure and efficient part of their omnichannel contact center strategy," Darren Hakeman, senior vice president of product and strategy at the San Jose, Calif.-based company said in a joint statement with Conversocial.

"Omnichannel" is industry jargon for being able to communicate with customers over multiple mediums, such as phone, chat, websites, email, and more recently, social media.

For young adults, social media has become a mainstream channel for communicating their likes and dislikes about companies' products and services, said Nemertes Research contact center analyst Lisa Durant. In fact, people often go to Facebook first to complain about a company, underscoring the importance of customer service social media.

"Because it's public, a lot of people feel they're more likely to get a response," Durant said.

8x8's cloud-based product is called Virtual Contact Center. The service comprises modules for supporting and managing a variety of communication channels.

The Conversocial integration with Virtual Contact Center will allow customer service reps to move conversations to a more private type of communication like chat, email or phone. Typically, these conversations are handled through direct emailing or chat on the social media platform.

"This is a real trend in the industry," Durant said.

Social media monitoring trend grows, survey shows

More than 80 percent of the 20 to 50 IT executives interviewed about social media by Nemertes in its 2014 benchmark survey said their companies monitor what people are saying about them on social media.

While more than two-thirds of the interviewees said their marketing departments handled communications with customers, contact center workers are increasingly getting involved because they have processes in place for handling irate customers or handing off potential buyers to sales, Durant said.

Virtual Contact Center lets companies prioritize communications and incorporate them in a company's workflow. 8x8 also provides analytics for improving customer service.

8x8 provides elements of cloud-based UC to more than 40,000 small to large enterprises in more than 40 countries, according to the vendor.

8x8's roots are in digital telephony, and the company's cloud-based services follow a decade of designing VoIP-based virtual PBX products. The company also sells Virtual Office Pro, a product that includes Web conferencing, video call support, Internet-based faxing and digital call recording.

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How important is social media in your company's customer communications?
I think social media should always be a piece of a company's communciations strategy with customers - especially to keep people informed in the event of website downtime or a product issue. Keeping an open channel for customers to use to contact you is important - but of course you have to be available to respond. I read somewhere recently that 5 out of 6 messages that are sent to brands on social media go unanswered!