Monday, March 14, 2011

“How Do I Respond To That?” - Tips For Community Management

Posted by Amanda Walsh

The whitepaper by Buddy Media Platform entitled, “How Do I Respond to That?” circulated throughout our office this week. It provides great insight into brand management of a company Facebook page and how to publish and moderate effectively.

It is important to work within an overall policy of moderation in the same way that you would train customer service representatives to handle clients on the phone or in a store. Online interaction needs to be personalized and specific to your industry. Brands now have a Facebook wall that are often the first outlet an angry or frustrated customer will turn to and managers need to be equipped to handle those complaints quickly and politely.

The worst thing you can do with a complaint on Facebook is ignore it, or pick and choose which users you will respond to. For that matter, monitoring Facebook and other social media platforms has turned into a full-time job and vigilance is key.

Reacting/Responding
Respond quickly, sometimes even a response within 24 hours isn’t fast enough. Other customers can jump on the complaint bandwagon and the negativity can easily spin out of control.
Use the user’s name in your response. Make the message personalized and convey sympathy.
Provide a direct link to more information for a specific problem.
Offer follow up avenues including an e-mail address or a customer service phone number.
Be humble, apologetic and polite.

Spread the Positivity
Not all users will be frustrated. Some will be very happy with your service or product and leave positive feedback. It is important to acknowledge this with a “Thank you!” Positive feed back also provides an opportunity to suggest other options for the customer. For example, a happy customer at a hotel leaves a comment on the hotel’s Facebook page. You now have the opportunity to suggest the hotel restaurant for dinner or the in-house spa for a massage.
Provide direct contact information for a follow up opportunity.
If a customer is happy with service on the phone, let them know that the representative’s manager will be notified of their job well-done.
Take the high road when competitors are acknowledged. Continue to be positive.

Requests for Information 
Quick, accurate responses are key. Especially when there is speculation about a product release or something that is highly anticipated. The rumor mill can quickly spin out of control.
Be proactive with your comments.

Guidance and Advice
There is a fine balance between proactively protecting the brand from litigation and providing a valuable response.
Offer direct links for more information and/or the opportunity to contact an industry expert. Provide e-mail addresses or phone numbers for follow up.
Use a reassuring tone in your message and let the user know you are listening.

Tech Issues
Sitting, waiting customers can easily turn into enraged customers who vent their frustration on your Facebook page. In this type of situation, it is important to:
Give online and offline options for the customer to resolve their issue.
Direct links to community forums for more advice.
Acknowledge there is a known tech issue with the website and you (the company) are actively working on it. Post that information publicly to everyone. This gets the message out that you are aware of, and working on the issue.

In conclusion, vigilance is very important when monitoring Facebook as a brand/community manager. Acknowledge positive feedback from users. Outline rules and guidelines for the brand Facebook page. Post them in a clear area with a link to detailed information. Provide examples of feedback that is encouraged and other examples that are frowned upon. Profanity and/or offensive comments could be grounds to delete or even block a user. Encourage brand advocate to monitor as well. Facebook provides every user the option to report offensive commentary.

In the end, having a rock solid strategy will be the guide to handling disgruntled customers. Brands must continue to be vigilant in all social media spaces, because one negative comment could spur hundreds more in minutes!

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