Tag Archives: listen

Growing and Nurturing an Audience

social media flowers

Recently, I’ve experienced a recurring theme of people asking about how they can use social media to inform people, to promote their event, or because they just need a Facebook or Twitter page. And yes, social media can be used to inform people and promote events and programs, but that’s is not what they are about. They are about conversations and relationships. And don’t even get me started on having social media channels just for the sake of having them. But your audience members take some nurturing to grow, so give them a little water and sunlight and they’ll grow into thriving, engaging members of your community.

Take the Time

Just like an taking the time to pick up the phone and call an old friend, you need to take the time to find out how your audience is doing! This can be accomplished by asking them, monitoring relevant hashtags, or by listening to what they’re flat out telling you. You can then gauge their feelings and talk to them appropriately. Talking to students during the summer is different than during finals week.

Truly Listen

I’ve talked about truly listening to your audience before, but I’m going for it again. Sometimes you think you know what a problem is, or what an audience member is referencing, but if you jump to conclusions you could miss someone’s point quite easily, especially if you’re on Twitter and have a 140-character post to work with. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, or take the conversation to email if you need more information to understand what your audience member is trying to tell you.

Engage

Your audience wants to know you care. In higher education, that can be as simple as congratulating newly admitted students, answering questions about when food locations are open during spring break, or offering to answer questions of prospective students. Tell your audience you’re there for them in whatever capacity they need.

Story Time

I heard University of Cincinnati’s @PrezOno speak at EduWeb last year, and he told a story about a student who was upset that the vending machine was out of Cheez its. He listened to the complaint, and said he would find out why the vending machine was empty. And he followed through. His audience understands that he’s there for them, and reaches out regularly. He provides a perfect example of how to listen and engage with your audience. You can see this and more of Santa Ono’s presentation in the SlideShare below:

 

Customer Service Applies to Social Media Too

As some of you might know, I am getting ready to tie the knot in May. Thanks to this, I have been dealing with many different companies and the services and products they provide. Over the last few weeks, I have found myself in a tough position due to some mistakes by the company who is providing my bridesmaid dresses. If you know me personally, or follow me on Twitter, you may know who this company is, but since the mistakes have since been corrected, I am not going to give them anymore hell by mentioning them here. However, this doesn’t mean that there aren’t some social media customer service lessons to be learned, especially for higher education!

I feel like some companies forget that social media is just another channel for customer service, and a very important one at that. There are a lots of followers with all eyes on the conversation. Here are some tips to help make the conversation go as smoothly as possible!

Listen

Something I learned back when I was a waitress is to always listen to the entire problem being told to you. Many times, you think that you know what the problem will be, when in reality, the problem is something completely different. Make sure you solve the problems being voiced to you over social media by reading the entire problem, and even reaching out for more information if necessary.

Sorry Goes a Long Way

Apologize for the situation, no matter how large or small. You would be surprised how far the simple words, “I’m sorry,” go. It shows you understand their problem, and you are invested in assisting them find a solution.

No One Cares About the Processes

In every organization, there are processes to handle problems, there has to be. However, your customers do not care what your processes are. All they want is for you to listen to their problem and to fix it. Your answer to their problem should never be, “The ‘blank’ department is responsible for that, not me.” Rather, find out what needs to be done, and help fix the problem. This also applies to blame, it’s easy to blame someone else for the problem, but again, your customers don’t care about who made the mistake. They care that you fix it, and it is your job to take responsibility for finding a solution as a representative of your organization.

Make it Your Mission

It’s easy to pass off a complaint to someone else, but a customer doesn’t want to go through the shuffle of being passed from office to office. Make it your mission to help this customer get a resolution. Pick up the phone and find a specific person to help the situation. Ensure they contact the customer, and that a solution is reached.