The owner is on board, the signs are ready to deploy, all the social media profiles have been claimed, but aren’t we forgetting something?
The managers and the rest of the staff must be educated on what’s going on. The staff is the front line to customers and they are the face of customer service. Without them, no social strategy can work.
This is something you need to discuss with the owner when you first start working together. They will have to help you explain, train and excite employees about the social media strategy.
Here are some tips on how to get employees engaged with the social media strategy:
1. Introduce yourself to the staff. Explain what your role is and why your role is important. Employees will usually know a lot about social media already so no need to get into the details of each network. What is important is to explain that the social media strategy is intended to help the business do better, attract more clients, protect its reputation and get feedback from customers.
2. Tell employees what to expect. Take the opportunity to tell employees the basic components of a typical social media strategy. Prepare them for the possibility that more content from them might be needed (e.g. photos or fun facts). Let them know they might need to help market the social media strategy to customers as they provide service. Lastly, give them a heads up that there will be a feedback program put into place for customers to provide direct feedback instead of heading online to air their grievances.
3. Ask the staff for their help. The employees have been around for longer than you, they know the business and the customers and can provide great idea about relevant content, messaging and graphic assets. If the owner is willing, you might even run a contest for the best idea. It is important for the staff to understand that they are central to the success of this effort. Everyone – the owner, managers, employees and you – are on a team, working together.
It’s recommended to go through this process first with the manager of each location separately. Then, meet with the employees as a group with the manager’s support.
As you’re working on the plan and visiting the location for research, stay in touch with the manager and employees and get their feedback along the way, where relevant. Always be courteous and get out of their way when they’re in the middle of doing their job.
Launch Preparation – Managers
Before deploying new materials and launching, present the manager with the plan, as approved by the owner. It’s better if the owner is there as well, but not mandatory. Make sure the manager knows what they need to provide you with (e.g. the monthly discount deal). Talk about how to explain to the staff what is expected of them. Offer that the manager actually explain it to them and go over the major points.
Launch Preparation – Staff
Prepare the staff for the program launch:
1. Overview – Get the staff together and go over the main components of the program:
2. Customer evangelism – Employees should encourage customers to engage with the business online. They can point out the Facebook profile as customers leave. They can suggest to claim a coupon online when one is available (for example, when you like our page, you get a free drink).
3. Content – What materials they may be able to provide to post on the site. Bring examples with you to pass around.
Hightlight Feedback System
It’s important that employees point out the private feedback program. Customers will go straight to social media unless they know otherwise. Employees are key in spreading the word. You might want them to hand out cards as the customer leaves or verbally ask for feedback. A good line might be “Thank you for visiting us today. If we did a good job, we’d appreciate a great review. If we can do better, help us improve by using our private feedback program. Thanks and see you again soon”.
You may notice that some of the employees are uneasy about the feedback program. They might be a bit afraid about customer complaints and getting potentially reprimanded for when those happen. This is an important topic to discuss and the person discussing it should be the manager or owner.
Employees should understand that the purpose of the feedback program is to:
1. Learn and improve through feedback
2. Prevent negative reviews from harming the business’ reputation
3. Hold people accountable for their behavior
The manager shouldn’t shy away from discussing this last point. Indeed, a feedback program makes it easier to know when things go wrong and point to who was the person making the mistake. It should be emphasized that the goal is not to catch people or punish them, the goal is to analyze and learn from mistakes. However, if something egregious comes out through the feedback program there certainly could be disciplinary steps taken. This is the same as when customers complain to the manager or write a letter. There is nothing different other than the feedback program is now more visible to employees. On a positive note, it’s wise to point out that customers often send compliments using programs such as OwnerListens so great service and positive behavior could be discovered and rewarded.