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Evolution of Outsourced Social Media Services at Sitel

Facebook, twitter, Instagram, Google+, the list goes on . . .  the need for both B2C and B2B enterprises to establish and foster a social presence has evolved from a nice to have to an essential capability . . . yaaawn! We’ve heard this so many times that we are at risk of ignoring it, like irritating boy band lyrics. But unlike the boy band lyrics, there is some truth to the message.

Having put an emphasis on social media, Sitel has become a leader in the delivery of outsourced social media services (NelsonHall, NEAT, Social Media Services 2013). Like any winning formula, the need to keep the service up to date is crucial, and it is doing this.

Sitel is in the process of changing the look and feel of the organization, now branding as a customer experience management provider, and categorizing its offerings into five areas:

  • Engagement services
  • Omni-channel services
  • Cloud services
  • Insight services
  • Advisory services.

Sitel’s new social media service, launched last month, fits into the omni-channel services category, although aspects of it also creep into engagement, cloud and insight services. The offering is broadly split into two service lines:

  • Social monitoring services: involves the analysis of trends, sentiments, and actionable opportunities and presents these to clients in a dashboard format. The majority of CMS BPO providers are now offering these services
  • Social engagement services: agents interact with consumers to facilitate customer care, technical support and sales. A more advanced offering than social media monitoring, this is more differentiated, and is where Sitel is focusing.

So besides a change in structure, how has Sitel’s social media offering changed?

Sitel’s focus on this service has changed from mainly monitoring to active engagement, which now also includes lead generation and up- and cross-sell activities, something that was missing in the previous itineration of the service. Notably, Sitel has switched the core of its social media platform from Oracle RightNow to Lithium’s social media platform. One of the key drivers for this transition is the need to engage in close to real time as possible across social channels, something that the Oracle platform was not geared to provide, only updating its feed every 15 minutes; whereas Lithium uses twitter FireHose to update feeds in close to real time. The Lithium platform also offers a smoother transition to private messaging than Oracle, something that is key to improving response times and, of course, increasing agent efficiency. This platform now integrates in the same way as other channels in Sitel’s Intelligent Desktop. Sitel is now also the sole reseller for this Lithium platform. Given Sitel’s new structure now including cloud services, this indicates Sitel’s intention to also move into the SaaS market.

Sitel’s target focus for social media has also changed, from a primarily U.S. focus with a small degree of EMEA exposure to a much more balanced U.S./EMEA split. Two key signings that have dramatically ramped up recently include:

  • A global media company looking to expand its multi-lingual social engagement throughout Continental Europe in support of its retail stores. FTE count has increased from three FTEs, initially conducting listening to 20 FTEs providing both listening and engagement
  • A U.K. high street fashion retailer, for whom Sitel has increased its social media headcount from two last year to 25 currently. This number is set to grow further as Sitel rolls out a personal “concierge” or personal fashion advice service across twitter and Facebook later this year. This is something that has been proposed by many vendors, though there is little evidence of it actually been rolled out.

This development of its social media offering and its focus on cloud based and advisory services reflect Sitel positioning for higher margin services –profitability has been a long-term concern for the company. It’s still early days for Sitel’s cloud services, but its social media service is booming. While these services will not rectify profitability issues, they will certainly help. 

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