LiveWorld is piloting the next generation of social tools that will move customer service from streams on Facebook, Twitter and other social sites to mobile messaging apps. It creates a Web chat function on a smartphone.
Peter Friedman, LiveWorld's chairman and CEO, calls the movement "social customer service in the palm of your hand."
Brands like American Express, Pfizer, Procter & Gamble and Walmart will have an option to license LiveWorld tools and integrate them through a series of APIs to social messaging apps. It takes the public conversation private.
The software as a service (SaaS) tools support moderation and engagement, case management, analytics, as well as the ability to manage customer profiles.
Friedman told Social Media & Marketing Daily at South By Southwest Interactive that the messaging model brings brands closer to consumers on the go, and each interaction will cost less. A lot less.
"If the brand offshores customer service it costs about $10 per inquiry, compared with onshore at $23," he says, noting that messaging will cost brands between $2 and $5 depending on the time it takes to complete the inquiry. "Email and Chat cost about $5 for each customer service inquiry."
Consumers take to social sites to get quick answers from brands, especially during a customer service problem, but getting answers isn't easy. Sometimes it's a matter of learning how to use the tools. Brands such as American Airlines, which have similar tools like Conversocial, know how to acknowledge disputes, but do not know how to resolve customer service request on social sites.
Monitoring resolutions at American Airlines prompts consumers to other forms of communication such as email, which takes a minimum of two weeks for a response. A company spokesperson says the Department of Transportation (DOT) mandates that formal complaints are handled by Customer Relations via the company's Web site.
The combination of cost and time will force most call and customer service centers to "close within five to 10 years," Friedman boldly predicts. Friedman, who spent more than 10 years at Apple working with Steve Jobs, says: "The entire industry will be gone, along with the offshore call-center model because more chaotic conversations happen on social media."
Conversocial, which supports companies like Sprint, offers a similar customer service messaging model to LiveWorld, and Tencent-owned WeChat based in China. Josh March, Conversocial CEO, says when it comes to real service issues, companies will use public areas on the social sites. Often, however, they will move it to a private forum like messaging, which provides one-on-one communication.