Engagement Etiquette for Social Care Professionals
By Edwin Margulies
Social Engagement for Customer Care is perhaps one of the most exciting and growing
areas for customer service professionals. More and more, consumers look to their social networks for help, advice, buying tips and even technical support. But you've got to be careful how you outreach to social authors because you don't want to be characterized as a "cyber stalker" or just plain rude. Here are some etiquette tips being put in to practice by social care experts.
Open Ask vs Private Mention
Despite the fact that Twitter and FaceBook are open forums, many people use these social networks as private mediums and conduct one-on-one conversations in public view. Of course there is a more appropriate way to communicate privately: direct messages. Despite this solution, many nonetheless converse privately on an open channel.
The question is, does that give you the right to directly answer a private question even though you were only eavesdropping? Well, the answer is not really. You run the risk of alienating your target audience and hurting your brand. This means if you send a tweet with an @person handle to get the attention of the person, that may be too direct.
A less direct approach is to first follow or befriend the person you think you can help. The person you are reaching out to will accept your friend request or follow you back if they are interested in getting your advice. Of course it helps to have a handle that is obvious so the person you are interested in communicating with understands what brand you represent. For example @abccompanysupport or @abccompanyhelp are good handles.
On the other hand, if someone is asking an open, "croudsource-like" question that is not directed at a specific person, it is fair game to answer with an @handle response. That's not cyberstalking, but simply an outreach based on a "public" question in the form of an open ask.
Understanding the difference between an open ask and a private mention is important so you don't step on people's toes or get them upset. Read each post carefully so you approach it appropriately.
It's a good idea to offer an option of privacy when responding to social posts. For example, if someone is letting off steam about a broken product, you can say: "@person would love to help. Please follow me and I'll help with a direct message or phone call."
If the person does not want to follow you a direct (private) message is not possible. A way around this problem is to have a knowledge base set up with published articles answering questions or giving tips on common subjects. You can tweet or post the URL associated with these articles. For example, if you have an article prepared that explains the procedure for returning a products and getting an RMA number, you could tweet this publicly: "@person returning a faulty handset is a snap. Just go to http://www.help.returns.com/art443 to learn how to get an RMA."
Clearly you don't want to convey private data over a public medium but sending a url to generic knowledge base articles is OK.
Be Level Headed and Neutral
As a social engagement care professional, the persona you develop on line is more of a corporate persona, not a personal one.
You are speaking on behalf of your company, and therefore you need to tune in to the corporate persona, not your own. Each company has its own guidelines for how to engage and how to deflect angry posts. Some simply ignore rants and look for more neutral or less emotional posts. Some engage regardless of sentiment.
Either way, it is a best practice to remain neutral and calm when responding to an Author's posts. Breaking it down:
1. Don't use emoticons or capital letters
2. Don't judge or talk down to people
3. Always offer help: "I think I can help…"
4. Offer an escape valve: "Let's Chat when you get a moment."
Develop Rules and Next Best Actions
It's a good idea to tie responses to pre-developed scripts and "next best actions." For example, if an angry customer has had two "lemon" experiences in a row with your product, management may allow a "no questions asked" refund or a coupon or discount on the next order. You will need to develop rules for each type of situation and make those rules available to your social engagement care team.
Once you've developed standard rules, you can tie each rule to a specific script. Once your agents have an "official" response for the most likely scenarios, you can give them the flexibility to change them up a bit so they don't sound the same all the time. The last thing you want is to give the impression that the responses are automated.
By following a few best practices such as offering privacy, non-threatening generic answers, and staying neutral, you can navigate social networks as a social engagement care professional without getting yourself or your brand in trouble. It is helpful to draw-up your own rules of engagement for your company so everyone involved in social engagement for customer care is using the same playbook. Have proven best practices to share? Tweet us at @SoCoCare