Community Management: Part Cheerleader, Part Customer Service Expert
Providing assistance in customer service issues is just one way that the community manager needs to wear multiple hats. Through social media management, the community manager can be the nurturer, the brand evangelist, the customer advocate, the cheerleader, and the sometimes forgotten customer service representative. Of course, it is always great to be dealing with positive stuff on the brand’s page, but unfortunately that is not always the reality.
Dealing with customer service requests are great opportunities for a company to showcase its ability to build and create a community; on the other hand, it can have adverse results if handled incorrectly. By ignoring or handing situations poorly, you are allowing negative word-of-mouth messaging or online “vigilantes” to steal from your brand value, which is the kind of thing that is a social media nightmare to deal with.
To deal with these types of requests and issues, it is important to always have an action plan ready before a situation arises. By being prepared, you will have the tools you need, as a community manager, to quickly solve the problems.
If the front line community manager is not from the customer service organization and does not have first hand access to the files and account information necessary to address customer issues directly, having a pre-arranged support system in place to support them is imperative. Providing real-time support and assistance is an aspect of social media that is often forgotten. Businesses that can excel at that will stand far above those that don’t.
Having a presence online and engaging in conversations means actually listening and taking fan feedback to the company to continue to better the fan’s experiences. Marketing and PR issues are great fun when your community appreciates the valuable information you’ve added and interesting content you provide, but many of those great engagement moments are lost when the community is overrun with negative comments and unanswered customer service inquiries.
Having a passion for assisting others and finding solutions is one of the best attitudes and mentality for a community manager. By being on the lookout for potentially negative situations before they escalate is a great way to sidestep negative word-of-mouth and comments. By providing value to these online conversations, the community manager is working to solve customer service inquiries and comments. A marketing message is not enough for online communities. The community needs to be an engaging marketing channel; by being a liaison between the customer and the brand to acknowledge and actively listening for situations, providing feedback to the brand, and making things right with the customer.
A great sign of a positive community is when the community begins to monitor itself. Brand advocates will begin answering questions based on their own experiences. Often the brand advocates message is more readily accepted because it is not coming directly from the brand and does not seem like a “canned” response.
Whether the community manager is able to solve the issue through private messaging or pass the concern onto a representative, starting the conversation on a social network provides an experience that will increase brand loyalty. Showcasing a concern for customer servicerelated inquiries would also have an impact on other fans, thereby causing an increase in engagement and retention.
Check out Annalise Kaylor’s blog post about why community management shouldn’t be just handed over to interns anymore. The community manager needs to have a variety of skills and tools ready to utilize when needed in solving difficult situations and inquires.