1. Don’t play ‘favorites’ in Social Media, as everyone germane to your brand now has a platform and a voice online. The “A-list” is just one constituency, and not always the most influential. The “B-to-Z List” is enormous, active, and very influential to their audiences; treat them with full respect
2. People are busy online so respect their time and respond to their requests immediately: respond to anyone who engages within the hour, no matter who they are, if possible. If they’re being neutral or positive, it shows respect; if they’re hostile or contentious, an immediate response can prevent a war and win them over
3. Do not pour all of your resources into top influencers: find a way to engage through the long-tail
4. Remember that you’re always in public when you’re online: not only your tweets and blog posts are public; whenever you email someone or connect with them via DM or private message, it just takes a simple copy-and-paste for any and all of your correspondence to go public online. (always assume everything you do might very well end up on the front page of the Guardian Papers)
5. Always be responsive, timely, generous, and friendly: always engage horns with hugs. Irony and randomness does not work. If you are every accused of anything untoward, accept, apologize, and move back to solving the issue
6. Keep as much of the conversation online and in public as possible: while you may be tempted to bring the conversation offline, keep all of it online until the point you need to exchange personal data and account numbers
7. The primary value of online customer support is being publicly generous and responsive: don’t just pop in and pull everyone who engages with you onto the phone, into email, or over to a private direct message but take the opportunity to spend as much time as you can having a public, open, friendly, and helpful conversational back and forth.
8. Engage online and in the public eye for for as long as you can: great advice from Zappos’ Thomas Knoll: why rush the open ticket to closed? Why not spend the time to actually build rapport? This isn’t a call center proper. Why not keep folks chatting back and forth for as long as they’re interested?
9. Never turf any question or query: never drop someone a link when you can write/talk them through it and please, never, ever, tell them to look it up on Google or send them to an FAQ segment. Each question is an opportunity to engage, teach and broadening your scope.
10. “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle”: Pardon my not being able to get over my first degree, B.Arts, Philosophy but…this is a quote from the philosopher Philo of Alexandria (20 BC – 50 AD) that we at Advoco Digital live by. When folks online snap, are mean, short or even angry, we know it is never really at us. Everyone’s busy and has a first life and we just wander into somebody else’s messes. Our only job is to be as helpful, responsive, nice, generous, patient, and friendly as humanly possible
11. Do what you say you’re going to do: I keep on telling people that Social Media Marketing and Digital PR is equal parts logistics, organization, and hospitality. Everyone focuses on the charm part of the relationship but a man is judged on keeping his word. Keep your word.
12. Over-communicate online to let your customer know what’s going on: the first thing a visitor should hear, almost immediately, is: @advoco: Hi, I just saw this. Let me see what I can do. I’ll get back to you in a few with more information.” Then, “@advoco: I just spoke to my manager and he’s getting approval for a possible refund. I will be back to you soon.” If you don’t over-communicate, visitors may feel dismissed
13. Private messages and DMs are only for private information; bring the conversation back into the spotlight: don’t just impress your single guest with your mad skills and your ability to solve problems and deliver results. Once you get the account info, name, address, and phone, bring it back into the light and solve the problem
14. Only mention solutions that you are empowered and authorized to offer: even if you unintentionally lead a visitor on with promises of a full refund or over-nighting a replacement, if you are not authorized to solve a problem, don’t even mention it until you get an express OK from whomever is authorized to make the decision — just keep the customer in the loop every step of the way (see #2)
15. After all the charming, responding, communicating, and authorizing, you are not off the hook until you provide a solution: always beware to offer the solution that your visitor or customer wants rather than the solution you want to give because someone who’s mad just gets madder if they don’t get satisfaction. Be willing to give ’til it hurts