Talk of the ‘Beast from the East’ and Storm Emma has dominated social media over the past couple of weeks. Naturally because of the dangerous weather, schools, roads and transport links have been closed across the country causing chaos and beyond that, many customer service enquiries!
In situations such as this, the public take to social media looking for:
- Reliable and frequently updated information
- To have their specific questions answered
- Genuine reassurance
This additional strain on the social channels across councils, emergency services, travel, and even utility providers means that social media and comms teams need to be at the top of their game to co-ordinate social communications ensuring consistent and regular updates, all with the added challenge that their colleagues may also be affected by the weather and be working remotely.
In this blog we look at how organisations can overcome these challenges to deliver the social customer care their audiences are looking for when bad weather strikes!
1: Co-ordinating remote social customer service teams
In many cases customer service teams are based in one central office that makes communicating with each other and passing information simple. However, when bad weather sets in it is unlikely that colleagues can rely on being able to nip to each other’s desks for updates. In these circumstances it is crucial that customer service teams have a way to continue to collaborate on responding to enquiries and concerns remotely where many are likely to be working from home.
This issue is compounded since speed is of the essence. Individuals want their questions answered faster than normal as it may make the difference between themselves in danger or not i.e. whether they attempt to drop their kids off at school or stay indoors knowing it is closed.
To ensure successful management of this process, the first step is to get visibility over inbound content. Once the scale of the situation is clear, teams can start to assign inbound content to specific members of the team — feeding questions to colleagues with relevant knowledge to provide the fastest and most accurate responses. This process will also help to ensure duplication of effort is removed as it is clear who is working on what.
To complement this, notes can be shared between colleagues to provide an update on what stage of response each piece of content is in and if there are any additional circumstances they need to be aware of — for instance if the individual is particularly vulnerable.
To get the latest information about the weather please follow @metoffice
To find out about gritting of #Northamptonshire‘s roads this winter follow @NNHighways
And @HighwaysEMIDS for any road closures.
We will of course be keeping you up to date #WinterReady #Prepared #StaySafe pic.twitter.com/n14Vb1H3B6
‚Äî NorthantsEmergencies (@NorthantsEPTeam) March 1, 2018
2: Managing high volumes with automated workflows
This process is very efficient on a day-to-day basis as well as in times of crisis. However, when a high proportion of inbound questions and enquiries can be grouped into a small number of categories, it can be highly effective to create automated workflows that route messages to the most suitable member of the team
For example, Council X knows that most of their questions will be about school closures, roads and gritting, and community services. With this in mind, these keywords can be monitored and when mentioned, the message will automatically be directed to the appropriate person or team. All messages containing the words ‘gritting’, ‘ice’, ‘roads’ or ‘abandoned cars’ would be flagged automatically to the highways team for a response.
This practice can be invaluable where volumes of inbound content are extraordinarily high, and resources may be limited.
Multiple Agencies are working together to make sure supplies get to communities that have been cut off because of snow. #TeamCumbria is loading up Chinooks with supplies. @BritishArmy @RoyalMarines @RoyalAirForce @CumbriaCC pic.twitter.com/Dk1Te0DKpB
‚Äî Cumbria Police (@Cumbriapolice) March 5, 2018
3: Go the extra mile!
There are likely to be conversations and posts on social media that do not directly @mention your organisation, but that contain questions and concerns about the weather. Due to the public nature of much of social media, it is in these conversations that brands and organisations have the opportunity to add more value and help to ease the concerns of individuals.
Identifying and engaging in these conversations is an excellent way to provide a human face to your brand and ensure no customers or members of the community are left without answers.
4: Thank your social communities
Finally, in times of crisis as many of our clients have found, if your social media followers are involved and invested in your channels then they will actually help customer service teams to answer queries and where necessary defend closures. Not only can this kind of engagement free up more time for teams to respond to high priority questions, but also builds community on your accounts. It is therefore important to take a moment to thank your followers for their involvement!
We‚Äôd like to thank people in our communities, our staff and partners for their hard work to clear streets and school accesses, for checking on neighbours and for continuing to deliver crucial services during the severe weather conditions – https://t.co/2pTVuGyjhO pic.twitter.com/cppRgmMcbY
‚Äî NorthLanCouncil (@nlcpeople) March 5, 2018
We hope that all our readers remained safe during the bad weather and that organisations continue to learn from these crisis situations to deliver exceptional customer service on social!