Embracing social media is not easy for many corporations. Regardless how they look at it, the tide of change in business philosophy on listening, transparency, and engagement with customers is the new revolution which will bring value to the organization. Transformation first starts within the organization by empowering, communicating, and training employees and breaking down silos. Your employees are your partners of change, the voice and ears to your organization, and the ones who will be building relationships with the customers. Customer-centricity Begins with Creating a Culture of Change is an excellent article on why change towards social media should be adopted.
Before you can build a culture to change, you must identify the resistance to change. There are many reasons, and listed below are some:
- no experience
- no training
- too difficult
- don’t think it will work
- fear of the unknown
- losing control
- fear of being unemployed
- fear of doing something wrong
- looking bad
- considered a waste of time
- don’t know how to measure ROI
These are all legitimate concerns. Tackling these problems first and knowing the strengths and weaknesses within the organization both structurally and with its people will help develop a culture of change and an adaption on new ways of looking at things. Communicate that change is good for both the organization and as an expectation from your customers. Mention that everyone at all levels works for the customer.
Companies venture into social media for various reasons. Some jump in because they know that there is a clear benefit, others jump in because they have no choice that their customers are demanding it, and others may jump in to resolve issues with customers. Your company must setup goals and objectives. What does the organization want to achieve? Is it better customer support, brand recognition, lead generation, complaint resolution, reduce the cost to the call center? How are you going to get there and at what time frame? Look at the organization as a whole and each department individually. Your objectives should be measurable such as reduced time for complaint resolution, number of visits to your website’s landing page, engagement rate, etc.
Develop a social media policy on who can respond to customers and what can be said. The policy must be unique to the company and should have input from people from various levels and functions. It should include roles and responsibilities, legal issues, what can be said in social media circles both inside of work and outside of work, and should be flexible to change since social media is constantly changing. 10 Tips for Creating a Social Media Policy for Your Business provides detailed information to get your social media policy started.
Assign responsibility and accountability to those who will be representing you in social media. Include all those that have customer facing functions. Setup a social media team which will meet at regular intervals. The team should include people from various functions such as customer service, marketing, sales, human resources, IT, and public relations. One person must be accountable for the overall social media program and this person must have the appropriate knowledge and resources to do the job. At least one member should be from upper management that is committed to the social media concept. Without upper management involvement, there may be hurdles which could stall what your team is working towards. There needs to be buy-in from upper management for this to work.
Empower your employees to interact with customers online to build brand awareness, customer support, and to provide comment. Set clear company guidelines and policies on the type of interaction with customers and train those who will be your ambassadors. The training should include who can interact, what can be said, and how to respond to both positive and negative comments and legal issues. Employees should know the platforms customers are residing in, that each platform is unique, and that the type of communication in each may be different. Understanding basic analytics will help in determining the depth of engagement and what sentiments are discussed about your company.
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Change is not only a personal gain, but an inspiration on helping others improve their lives.
Social change is a philosophy and an adaptation on building meaningful communities.