It's inevitable: one of the many hats community managers will wear is that of customer support agent. Even while using social media to extend and personalize your brand, customers will wind up using these channels to gain answers to their own questions. Finding scalable ways to maintain a sense of personal connection regarding customer support inquiries can be a challenge. While you can direct message on Twitter, how can you point them in a direction for more information that maintains that level of connection in 140 characters or less?
Here are some quick ways to keep the customer support high tech and high touch:
FAQs. Keep hearing the same few questions from your customers? Take the time to jot down your best response to your frequently asked questions and share them with your customers in an external web page. Updating FAQs can be cumbersome, but only create FAQs for the top 5 percent of questions asked to cut down on upkeep. The time you'll save from writing the same responses over and over will allow you to serve more customers by providing them with consistent, accurate answers. Plus, sharing a link to an FAQ section via Twitter rather than writing out a lengthy response will increase your chances of being read and retweeted.
Help center. These days customers expect all brands to have a page of their website dedicated to customer support - and they should. Customer support solutions are cheap and easy to implement. Find one that allows you to display your FAQs in a visually pleasing way, provides search so your customers can find their own answers, and a ticketing system so you can keep track of questions asked via Twitter, Facebook, and email - all in one place. Though it takes a bit of work to set this up, in time the center will decrease the number of support questions asked in your social media channels so you can spend more time promoting your brand.
Tutorial videos. Even in this digital age, a picture is still worth a thousand words. Posted your FAQs but still get asked the same questions? Make a quick :30 tutorial video and literally show them how to do it. Keep overhead low by simply displaying a series of screenshots with arrows pointing to where they should click. Skip the music if need be, but ensure the production quality is high since the video will be a reflection of your brand. Once they're ready, publish them on YouTube and promote them through your social media channels. Customers will not only applaud your efforts to increase your support for them but also for providing a service that is now becoming standard.
Following through with these three tips will provide your customers with that warm and fuzzy feeling that you truly care about their experience with your brand - and you do. It may seem like this customer support hat is too big for your head right now, but the above is sure to help alleviate the pressure while even strengthening your brand. And before you know it, you won't even know you're wearing that hat.
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Laney Whitcanack is Federated Media Publishing's chief community officer. Prior to joining FM, Laney co-founded BigTent in 2006 and focused on innovating online and offline ways to connect people with communities they care about. She spent the decade previous to BigTent coaching and training hundreds of community leaders, in the U.S. and Mexico, most recently as the director of community programs for the Coro Center for Civic Leadership.
A published author and speaker on entrepreneurship and community organizing, Laney received the Jefferson Award for Public Service in 2008. She is currently a board member of Zeum: San Francisco's Children's Museum and The Princess Project and is involved in even more community groups after the birth of her daughter, Campbell, last year. Laney has a B.A. from UCLA, and MBA from the Simmons School of Management, and an Ed.M from Harvard University.