The rise of social media has become more visible in recent years, also in the business world. Company forums like Yammer or instant messenger are part of the standard communication methods. In my daily tasks and at shows, I clearly notice that IT and Facilities departments are looking for a way to deal with this. These are my tips.
The nature of social media
Communication via social media often differs from communication via traditional channels. Communicating via social media can feel more accessible. Posting a comment on a forum has been done many times before and is less personal. As a result, people do not use as much communication etiquette.
They quickly send or post a message about what is bothering them. They can do this quickly, so they also expect a quick response. This communication also takes place in public. It is no longer a direct relationship between you and the caller who tells you what is wrong; colleagues can read along as well.
The challenges of social media for your department
The accessible nature of social media and the public way communication takes place are points that are worthy of your attention – especially if you will be using social media as a means of communication with your callers. You see, your callers will expect a swift response from your department if they contact you via a Twitter account, for instance. If they do not receive a timely response to the original call, it may result in a new complaint.
In addition, the public nature of problems made known via social media will pave the way to awareness among your callers. That is to say, callers often do not see the problems they face as problems until they discover that they affect other people as well. The coffee machine that sometimes needs to be turned on and off after someone has a cup of coffee is practically seen as a ritual until you discuss it and really do see it as a nuisance.
You can read more on this in the Service Desk Institute's report on Social Media for Service Desks. (Be warned, though - it downloads right away as a PDF).
Communicating reduces uncertainty
But what does this mean? Should you be afraid of communication via social media? Should you have answers ready because customers expect fast communication and a public complaint could lead to more negative feedback?
My answer to this is no. Your callers will not expect a solution straight away; they chiefly want to be heard and know where they stand. Negative feedback is a result of inadequate services and uncertainty regarding what is being done about the call. This is why the following points are extremely important:
- Take care of expectations management: let the customer know when the call will be processed at the latest.
- Communicate: let the caller know if you think that you will be unable to process the call on time. However, also communicate why you need more time. Do not keep the customer in the dark about their call.
- Be consistent: give each call of the same type the same expected resolution time.
What can you expect?
To minimize negative buzz that may develop via social media, it is a good idea to standardize the call resolution process. Classify calls according to priority and duration, for example. Using durations, you can indicate when the call will be processed at the latest. Assign a duration to each priority. When a call is logged, it is assigned a priority based on a number of properties.
The same type of call will receive the same priority in future, and therefore the same duration. You can communicate this duration to the caller so that they know when to expect a solution.
Prioritising social media calls
Use impact and urgency when prioritizing calls. A priority matrix can help you take a structured approach when determining priority and duration. This lets you define and substantiate why a call is assigned a specific duration, letting callers know where they stand. You now have a thorough, clear communication strategy that tries to eliminate arbitrariness.
Make your callers happy
You may have to take a different approach to your work as a result of social media. Bear in mind that it is most important to work consistently, be open to your customers so they know what to expect, and above all communicate this clearly. These things make callers happy, even if you do not use social media.
For more tips on how to get closer to your customers, check out our Customer Centricity E-book