Written by Jen Chae, English Digital Copywriter at Social@Ogilvy Hong Kong.
Community management is a new type of science, and there isn’t yet a single set of instructions on how to do it perfectly. How you handle any given situation can be subjective, depending on the brand and strategy.
But that’s what makes it exciting for community managers to experiment with their own golden rules. Of course, with the major objectives of community management in mind: to make sure everyone is happy and to minimize the number of follow-up queries (this one’s more for the community manager’s sake).
Here are some pointers I’ve gathered during my time community managing, which I have found to boost speed of workflow and overall efficiency by minimizing the number of bounce-backs.
1. Make sure the tone is personable, but not too conversational
Chances are, you are not on stand-by 24/7 as real-time support. There will likely be delayed response time, so it’s important to structure every single one your responses to read like “letters” more so than chat messages. I realized that when your language comes off a bit relaxed, customers start to initiate a back-and-forth chat thread – which is never what you want, especially given your resources.
2. Be transparent that you’re there to help, but are not tech support
From my experience, bounce-backs (follow-up questions) occur most when the response is general and imprecise. If the customer is asking a technical question, it will be more effective to answer in an honest, re-directing way than to try to answer the question vaguely. As social media managers, we’re playing the role of an information desk, not the actual technical support desk itself. In my view, it’s more effective to not know and redirect than to pretend to know and raise more questions. This leads me to my next point…
3. Perfect an FAQ to always have a call to action / URL on hand
They say you give a man a fish, he eats for a day and you teach him how to fish, he’ll eat for a lifetime. Even if you can answer the question right away, doesn’t mean you should. This is my personal theory that you should never spoon-feed anyone with answers, but rather, empower them with a tool that could direct them to all of their answers for future reference. This means URLs of informational pages, contact pages, internal search engines. Of course, use your judgment to see if it is a question you should answer right away (they do exist). But most often than not, it’s perfectly fine for customers to respond saying “thank you for the information,” rather than “thank you for the answer.” This is linked to my next point.
4. Respond in a firm and confident manner
Even if you’re unsure, find a solution you’re firm and confident about. Never sound iffy, because there’s nothing more frustrating than speaking to someone who doesn’t know what they’re talking about. If you’re unclear of your response, firmly direct them to someone who knows. And I’ve come to realize that often, the only way to be 100% confident regarding a more technical question is to have a URL on hand (refer to #3).
5. Double check the response for any hint of attitude
Facebook inbox messages are basically the “behind closed doors” remarks of social media, and not all are fun to read. Your response to these remarks should show that you care. You really are not an automated robot spitting out messages, you’re crafting customized responses. As you may or may not have realized, a lot of complaints can be rash, impatient, disrespectful, rude. I believe with these types of complaints, maintaining professionalism is most important, above all else, but that can be hard. Of course we should infuse a bit of sentiment and empathy in to every response, but be mindful that it should never be too much to come off the wrong way. Responding to negative sentiments with a positive sentiment can be hard, which is why professionalism should always be the ground rule.