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Online Community Manager: The Mediator Hat

There’s debate as to whether online community managers belong in the customer service department. No matter which department the role ends up in, you do spend a lot of time fielding customer issues. Because you’re the most visible person, people are going to reach out to you when they need something.

It doesn’t matter if you’re equipped to handle the situation; you still need to be gracious and see each item through until it’s resolved.

Something else to consider is that when you’re in a public role, people take things public. So if you reached out to a community member who was complaining about your brand on Twitter, and you failed to deliver, she might take her public outrage back to the social-media streets and complain about you.

Dealing with complaining customers requires a bit of finesse, patience, and (though you won’t always feel it) good cheer:

  • Do treat every complaint as if it’s urgent. Customers and community members don’t like to be made to feel silly or insignificant. Make sure that they know you take their concerns seriously and that you’re giving the matter your full attention.

  • Don’t ridicule complainers on the social networks. Even if a complaint seems trite, don’t make fun of anyone who has a concern, and especially don’t make fun in public. Mocking complainers will turn off anyone who is in the vicinity and make folks think twice about doing business with you.

  • Do respect your members’ privacy. If a customer has a complaint, it’s no one’s business but the customer and the people who are working to resolve said complaint. Don’t discuss anyone’s personal business with anyone.

  • Don’t keep putting it off. As soon as you learn of a complaint, get the ball rolling to resolve it. Introduce the complainer to the person who is helping or begin making inquiries. If you put it off until later, you’re more likely to forget.

  • Do follow up. Don’t assume a matter is resolved simply because you passed it on to someone else. Check back with both the customer and the person handling the issue. Only after the issue has been resolved to the customer’s satisfaction should you let it go.

  • Don’t assume this is an isolated incident. Many times when a single customer has a complaint, other people are experiencing the same thing. Do a little investigating. If it’s not an isolated incident, take the necessary action.

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