You are Always On

on stage This post by Doug Meacham is interesting. It reports on a Twitter exchange between Doug and Best Buy CMO Barry Judge, where Barry comes off as a bit harsh and off his game. The comments in the post are the best, and there’s a great perspective shared by Scott Monty of Ford.

I’m not going to analyze the exchange further myself. Instead, I’ve got a few pointers for people who find themselves as the stewards of their company’s brand, regardless of their level (intern or CMO).

You Are ALWAYS On

As representative of the brand, you are always on. The lights, camera, action started when you lit up the social channel. People judge the whole experience, not the best moments. That said, here are some thoughts for when moments come up where you feel a little sub-par, or when someone catches you off-guard.

Here’s one way to consider approaching the problem resolution that leads to these kinds of issues.

  1. Step away from the mic. Services like Twitter aren’t magical. We type into them. If you’re feeling a bit heated, take a step back. Speed of response is important, but so is level-headedness. Take a break for a moment. Step away.
  2. Disarm. It’s one of the best things Stephen Covey ever taught about human relations. When someone’s on the attack, accept that they see things differently. Embrace that. It also relates to the fabulous method, the three A’s: acknowledge, apologize, act.
  3. Apologize. Don’t necessarily assume blame, but apologize for the other party’s frustration. Restate what he or she has shared with you. “I’m sorry for your frustration. It sounds like you feel unheard.”
  4. Offer an offline connection. In social-media-based customer service, one of the most important shifts is to move into a more one-on-one medium like phone or email. There are two reasons: 1 is that it’s more personal ; 2 is that logging an entire customer service resolution in real time on the web isn’t always useful to either party.
  5. Engage the right people for the job. You might not be the right person to bring resolution. Don’t hold onto a problem for a long time before you realize this. Move all issues through internal channels, so that the people who can resolve the issue get involved quickly.
  6. Check back a few days after resolution. A nice move is to connect with the person who raised the issue a few days after it has been resolved (whether or not this was to the satisfaction of the customer, it shows that you care). If the problem is taking a while to resolve, a mid-solution check-in isn’t bad, either.

This Could Be You

There are plenty of days when I know better than to jump into Twitter or start lashing out on blogs. I’m human. So are you. We all let the world get to us from time to time. Don’t be so quick to judge or to take the high-and-mighty response. There’ll be a day when your chips are down.

As more and more of us are finding our way into the role of trust agent for our organization, in some regard or another, I predict we’ll have more and more experiences like the one Doug chronicled. Hopefully, we’ll have tools in place to help us be human and friends to keep us sane in the mean time.

Say cheese.

Photo credit Saquan Stimpson/monstershaq2000

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