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Essential Manager Tasks: How to Handle Online Community Correspondence

Being an online community manager means being an effective communicator. Though there may be times you dread checking e-mail, know it’s an important an essential part of your job.

You’re going to handle a lot of e-mail. When word gets out that you’re the one community members come to with questions and concerns, your inbox is going to be flooded. Though some days, e-mail is minimal, expect more days when your inbox seems almost bottomless.

To make matters worse, your coworkers are going to forward e-mails that they feel fall under your department’s jurisdiction, so be prepared to receive lots of inquiries, complaints, and stuff that has nothing to do with you at all. Also, you’re going to find that the same questions are asked over and over.

But no matter how tired you are, and even if you’re ready to pull your hair out after receiving the same question 100 times in the past hour, you have to respond to everyone with the same positive, professional, courteous tone.

You may be inclined to create a form letter for giving the same stock answer to frequently asked questions, but do reconsider. Form letters are impersonal and make your community members feel that they mean so little to you that you can’t be bothered to create a brief, personal response. With the exception of a mass community announcement, you should avoid using a form letter if at all possible.

Set aside a time each day in which to handle member inquiries, complaints, and comments. Read everything to determine whether it should go to another person, receive an answer right away, or get further investigation. Anything that isn’t concluded right away requires follow-up. Make sure to note any unresolved correspondence so that it doesn’t end up falling through the cracks.

To cut down on the amount of e-mail you’re receiving, you may want to post frequently asked questions on your Facebook page, blog, or community forum. Post a link to your FAQs on your blog’s or website’s Contact us page so that members know to read the FAQs before writing to you with questions that you’ve already answered.

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