In case you didn’t hear, COMCAST has a bit of a customer service scandal on its hands. Ryan Block, former COMCAST customer, called to cancel his service and received the run-around from an unnamed customer service representative.
The rep repeatedly asked Block why he was cancelling, and despite Block giving myriad reasons for the cancellation, the rep refused to back down. So 10 minutes into the call Block decided to start recording. You can listen to the remaining 8 minutes 14 seconds of the conversation here on NPR, but it basically amounts to a customer service rep refusing to disconnect service and trying to badger the customer into staying.
Clearly this is a terrible example of customer service, but the number of bad reps in the world is astounding. Even worse is the number of social media managers who are ill equipped to handle complaints and are incapable of responding tactfully. It’s almost impossible to see it coming — that is, unless you take these precautions. Here are 3 ways you can avoid the social media equivalent of the COMCAST Service Scandal:
1. Have a plethora of policies in place.
Try saying that 5 times fast. While having rules certainly won’t guarantee that your employees won’t break them, it will make it far less likely that something horrible will happen. Some companies go as far as to write scripts for dealing with common issues. While that doesn’t always work (mainly because people aren’t all that predictable), it can help prepare for the issues that come up the most often.
By creating robust social media management policies, you can dictate the kind of language and tone your employees are allowed to use. For example, COMCAST could have avoided some of what happened if they had a policy that said, “Unless it directly conflicts with another policy created by COMCAST, do whatever service-related thing the customer asks immediately.” Of course, then you have to create other policies dictating what you don’t have to do, but you’re safer that way.
Legal departments love this stuff. Ask them to help you draw something up, and you’ll be firing on all cylinders in no time. Then, incentivize strict adherence to policy with your social media managers.
2. Have multiple people in charge of your accounts.
The most dangerous situations arise when only one person has access to the social media accounts. This creates a precarious situation that lacks any kind of accountability, and it would be so much easier for an employee to go rogue.
If you have an entire team of people on the job, all attempting to follow policies, one is less likely to go astray.
3. Hire or appoint only the most poised and experienced interpersonal communicators.
The truth is, you can probably tell how someone will do before they start if you know what to look for.
First, look for experience. While social media isn’t that old, it is now an established enough medium to have experts, or people who have successfully managed accounts in the past. Better yet, hire an agency. But still make sure you speak to the person specifically running your account so that you can observe the next trait:
Watch the way they select their words. Do they blurt out whatever comes to mind and then add in corrections and clarifications? Or are they slower to respond but do so with good diction? The latter will be less likely to go off on a customer in an unforeseen way.
Lastly, test them. See if you can put them on the defense for something. If there’s a gap in their resumes, go at it. See if they get flustered or if they respond carefully and pleasantly. Again, the latter would be far more suited to run the customer service side of a social media campaign.
In conclusion, don’t be COMCAST. Make sure your customer service folks on social media are professional by creating policies, establishing accountability, and choosing the right team members.
About the Author: Samantha Gale is a writer and account manager at 60 Second Communications, a full-service marketing agency working with well-known brands around the globe.