Community Management isn’t a skill that comes with a manual or strict guidelines. It’s unpredictable because it changes depending on the parties interacting and the platform used.
However, at the core of Community Management are many tried and true tenets of customer service. Here are five Customer Service-based Community Management guidelines for any digital platform:
1. Social Listening
In the old days, listening meant waiting for customers to call you with a problem. Now, it means being relevant to conversations in progress and offering resources before the problem gets bigger.
On Twitter or Facebook, you can search for your brand’s keyword. On Twitter, you can save that search and create a list of folks who talk about you or your competition.
On Facebook, you can bookmark the search in your browser and go back to monitor it. If you use a social dashboard like Hootsuite, you can save these searches and lists on separate tabs for each social network. There are many social listening tools, but active listening will help your brand address even the smallest of complaints before customers begin publicizing dissatisfaction. Active listening also makes your brand look conscientious.
Social networking and live chat capabilities leave no excuse for slow responses to customer queries. Even if you’re not quite sure what the customer is looking for, get the conversation started with a “How can we help you today?”
And don’t forget to leverage…
3. Offline Escalation
Don’t air your dirty laundry, if you can avoid it. After the customer has published a tweet, Facebook post, or forum topic about her experience with your brand, ask for clarification if needed and give her an email address or phone number to call for more assistance. Adding the name of the person she’ll be speaking to (yours, if it’s you!) will make the customer feel that she’s receiving individual attention.
4. Inter-Departmental Communication
No Community Manager is an island!
Maintaining open communication between departments will help you assist customers more efficiently, escalate their concerns to the right resources, and save you from embarrassing or even career-ending mistakes.
If you couldn’t bring the customer offline, the problem she’s posting about online may attract others with similar complaints. Publicly denying the customer’s claims is basically like blowing a dog whistle for all unsatisfied customers to share their negative experiences with your brand.
So, before your brand goes viral for all the wrong reasons, stop and think about how you’ll be able to escalate the complaint and/or solve the problem.
In the face of a public snafu, eating a slice of humble pie and making real, visible efforts to right the wrong is more effective than getting defensive. Since brands act as online personalities, so should their Community Managers behave as any sensible person would.
Owning up to a mistake defuses the tension and puts the conversation back in your court. Tell dissatisfied customers the real, tangible ways you’re going about solving their problems then follow guideline #3 and offer the customer an individualized means of following up on the problem, such as a phone extension or email.
What tricks do you use as a Community Manager? Tell me in the comment section!