How to use social media for crisis management

02 March 2018 by Anita Matthews

Use social media to improve your crisis management

Unexpected spikes in volume on your social channels can happen for a variety of reasons; competitor activity, regulation changes, or a regular favourite - the weather!

Planning ahead will save precious time and reduce the strain on your customer service team, but if you haven’t got your crisis management plan together yet – don’t panic!  

Here’s a few ways you can use social media to protect your brand reputation, keep customers informed and maintain the best possible customer experience.

#1. Get the full picture

To really see the impact of a situation such as adverse weather or a service outage, you need to consolidate your social channels into a unified inbox. This will enable you to understand how the volume of your incoming messages is changing across all your social channels.  

A social customer service tool with reporting and analytics will enable you to quickly and easily assess the situation and create a plan to help minimise any disruption.

Consider monitoring activity using a real-time supervisor dash, as this means your management team can quickly access social data and make fast decisions to increase staffing levels, implement home working, or switch to a back-up outsourcer to ensure service standards are maintained and customers don’t feel left in the dark (or the cold!).

For enterprises with multiple service locations or a more complex service structure, a dedicated Social Command Centre can ensure all information is readily available when it’s needed.

#2. Set up intelligent automations

If your social customer service tool has automations, use these to identify priority messages and speed up message triage. If you already have some in place you might need to update these or create some new ones specific to the event or situation you are experiencing. These will help your customer service team process messages quickly and efficiently and ensure customers get a speedy response.

If the crisis impacts your staffing levels e.g. bad weather prevents agents from getting to the office, ensure you have workflows in place to distribute social messages effectively among the team that are online and available.  This helps prevent any missed messages when your team are stretched or you are working with a reduced staffing level.

Read our guide: How to Manage Social Customer Service at Scale>>

#3. Be proactive

If you’re battling a blizzard and your customers are local, chances are they’ll know things might not be working as usual.  But if you serve customers further afield, or the crisis is down to an internal issue or supply chain problem, don’t forget they may not be aware and will still expect a great customer service experience.  

Ensure you manage customer expectations about any service disruptions. Be proactive with your social customer care and post key information on your social channels. Pin important service updates so they don’t get lost among other messages. 

Let customers know if there are any changes to your office hours or delivery schedules and keep them in the loop as the situation changes.

Provide links and content, such as FAQs to support self-service, as this will enable customers to help themselves and may help to reduce incoming customer service messages across all your service channels.

#4. Use approval loops

Ensure your customer service team stays on message and customers receive replies that are of consistently high quality. If you are managing a crisis, conflicting messages will only spread confusion and cause dissatisfaction.

Issue clear guidelines to your customer service team and update them as the situation evolves.  Introducing an approval loop to check and monitor all, or selected messages, will provide peace of mind and avoid any slip ups.

#5. Review and evaluate

Once the crisis has passed ensure you take the time to review. Look at what worked well, but also consider what could be improved and what lessons you can take forward for the future.

Use analytics and reporting to demonstrate with clear figures the impact the crisis had on the customer service team, but also the implications for the wider business.

  • Look at how the team performed, how many messages were handled compared to a normal business period
  • Measure customer satisfaction levels and benchmark against the usual average
  • Consider any additional staffing or resources which you may need to improve crisis management for the future

Use the review process to create a Social Crisis Management Plan and communicate it to the team and wider business.  This creates a solid foundation to build on and helps demonstrate the importance of using social media for crisis management.

Discover how Sentiment helps hundreds of businesses use social media to manage customer service in a crisis.

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Tags: social media crisis

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