Belltech lukewarm about social networking use in contact centers

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Chilean technology provider Belltech sees a mixed picture in social networking use in Latin American contact centers, as several years must pass before a significant up-tick in this trend occurs, Belltech solutions development manager Rodrigo Contreras told BNamericas.

Major providers such as US telecoms applications, software and services supplier Avaya are readying launches of contact center solutions that integrate social networks, but Contreras warned that Latin America is still way behind the curve.

"Today, voice continues to represent the preferred channel to serve clients, and afterward come other technologies that have emerged, such as email and chat," he said. "Companies' managers are pressuring to include these channels [social networks], but adoption today is not widespread."

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The jury is still out regarding the final percentage of contact center transactions that will come through social networks, but Contreras estimated it would be 5-10%.

"At least 80% of contact center interactions continue to come through voice," he said. "I don't think that social networks will do a lot to change that situation."

For companies willing to wait, more sizable business opportunities linking social networks and contact centers may arise in Latin America in about three years. Social networking use will remain partly confined to companies' marketing divisions, but slowly spill over to contact activities.

Contreras said contact centers will also act to ensure that including social networks does not expose companies and clients to IT security threats, as sites such as Facebook have propagated malware in the past.

By geography, the countries expected to lead overall adoption include heavy social network users, such as Chile and Brazil. Companies already seen taking the lead in this area include Chilean telco Entel, though Latin America will continue to lag 1-2 years behind other countries such as the US.

"It's an emerging area," Contreras said. "It's a bet. It's a network that's seeing strong growth."

Belltech has presence in Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Peru and Brazil and more than 700 employees across the region. The company provides solutions from manufacturers such as Avaya, US contact center platform provider Aspect Software and Israeli contact center solutions company NICE Systems (Nasdaq: NICE).