Over the years I have worked for a variety of organisations; each brand bringing with it a unique vision for their support teams. Some have been more successful than others, and some have changed their policies so often my head would spin. But one thing successful companies had in common was their focus on combining Community Management with Customer Support.
In many cases, Community Management and Customer Support were one and the same - but not always. Some companies like to have one team work on email and phone support while another handled online engagement and communications. Regardless of your company’s structure, what is vital to the overall customer experience is that these departments work together cohesively.
What does this mean in practical terms for your company? Read on...
Tantamount to a successful support team is to ensure consistency in training. Both Community Management and Customer Support must be trained using the same materials and in the same manner. Ideally they are trained at the same time, and each individual taught both customer support, and community management platforms. Knowing what each department is dealing with will help each person know who to send what issues to, and how the other department is handling issues.
Inducting the teams together creates camaraderie, mutual respect and support through ‘the trenches’. It provides structure; creating a deep understanding of division of labour. Knowing who to go to when you’re stuck can provide consistency, and get the job done quickly for the customer - this is even more important when your company also has an outsourced out-of-hours team.
Tone of Voice is Everything and should be consistent regardless of the medium. It takes different skills to project empathy with a voice than with the written word; and intonation plays a big part in getting your word across. Community Management teams engage with customers in the written word more often than with their voice; yet they should be able to mirror the support team’s vocal empathy whenever responding to a customer via social.
When building out your tone of voice guidelines, consider the following:
Clear language The old rule still applies: Keep It Simple Stupid. Explaining your company’s policies should be simple to read for the team, and for the customer. Be concise and clear.
Empathy - this seems obvious however it is one of the hardest skills to teach. Listen and absorb everything a customer shares; then mirror it back. Showing you understand and appreciate their feelings about a situation goes a long way.
Be thorough - do not just address one of the items on a customer’s list of issues. If they write in with three different concerns, make sure you address each issue in your response. There is a reason each item has been brought up; and if they are not all resolved with your reply, your customer will simply feel unheard and unappreciated. And they’ll write back perhaps even more upset than before.
Added bonus: consistent messaging increases team member confidence and quality of work. If everyone is speaking the same language there is little room for confusion. This translates to a happy customer who knows exactly what to expect from your support and engagement teams.
Customer Support and Community Management are two sides of the same coin. You want Support and Community running like a well-oiled machine. One side needs the other in order to complete the job at hand. So consider scheduling the teams at the same time, on the same days.
Not only does this provide consistency and allow the teams to work together but also tells the customer when they can expect results. If a customer tries the support department first and doesn’t get the answer they want, they may try to contact someone on social media for a different result.
If the support team is available for conversation at the same time community is working, they provide a united front when explaining things to the customer. It also makes things much easier for each department to get the entire story, without misunderstandings. StrawberrySocial has a team of expert support and community professionals (skilled in tools such as Conversocial and Zendesk) ready to work with your brands 24 hours a day, seven days a week whenever needed.
When Community Management and Customer Service work together you encourage open communication, trust, internal support and brainstorming. Building relationships ensures harmonious teamwork; which translates to customer satisfaction and happiness.