Many employees are doing it anyway, whether the management knows it or not. The temptation is just too great. White collar workers sitting at desks, with computers and Internet connections are very likely using social media for personal use throughout much of their work day. Instead of management having the knee jerk reaction of forbidding access to the likes of Twitter and Facebook, what might happen if the executive levels supported and took ownership of customer management tasks with the aid of social media tools?
One of the most common complaints of providing for employee use of social media concerns the perceived loss of control of the business’ message to the public. The thought process tends to go in the direction of fearing the power these online tools have in spreading negative information about the company. Isn’t this sort of action still possible whether or not the employee has access to the Internet via a social community?
Dunbar’s Number, or more commonly known as the Law of 150 states that most people have, on average access to and at least some influence with as many as 150 other people (some folks, those known as Connectors tend to have many more within their sphere of influence). Essentially, this means that even if workers in the business are prohibited from connecting with current and potential customers online, they still have the opportunity to interact with quite a few folks out in the real world. Chance are, anything which an employee might say in denigration about the business online is already being spoken to others offline.
Part of the effective use of social media in the area of customer relationship management comes by identifying those who are most likely to speak ill of their employers. With this knowledge, management should be able to target and re-educate those who might have less than positive things to say. And this brings up the fact that a very important part of any use of social tools requires a well thought out plan of action which must include company-wide education.
Happy employees are always going to have nice, positive things to say to customers, online or off. Even so, there are still the needs of the business which must be expressed to anyone given the authorization to act as a face and voice for their company. Proper advanced planning and education to anyone working for the company who will be connecting to the general public should pay off in a number of ways.
One of those ways is that upper management can have the peace of mind that employees understand what is expected of them as they make their way into the world of social media use for the company. Another benefit is the ability to control the message the business wishes to broadcast to the public.
A number of studies have shown that business’ who expressly give their employees the power to speak for the company are usually rewarded by happier, more productive workers. Additionally, the faith placed in those using social media tools is returned to the company in the form of better retention and increased levels of support for the customer. Oh, and those supported customers tend to be happier and return to spend their money with the company more than businesses who have yet to jump onto the social media customer management wagon.
Employees can be an immense asset when it comes to customer management and social media. I agree that some – the disgruntled - may need some education on how to best serve the company. Each employee has a different perspective and should know their department well. When it comes to engaging customers on social media an automated response to an unhappy customer is like telling them you don’t have the time to care. A real response that addresses the problem and offers a solution shows the customer you care and they are appreciated.