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Welcome to the December 2013 edition of the FT Word. Topics for this month:
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I’ve found myself writing many job descriptions for community managers for various clients this year. We all know that job descriptions are exercises of style, with only loose connections with the reality of the actual jobs — but I have found it particularly difficult to capture the scope and depth of the role of community manager within the confines of a job description.
It’s easy enough to describe the tasks the community manager accomplishes: reviewing users’ posts, making sure that posts get an answer within a timely manner, starting discussions, correcting erroneous information, escalating big issues internally, calming irate users… But what matters more is the manner in which these tasks are accomplished. The community manager is an ambassador for the brand, a therapist for the wounded, a professional apologizer, a patient listener for the afflicted, a persistent negotiator. She or he is the perfect butler, unobtrusive but always present at the right moment, ready to whisk away problems and troublemakers — but a butler with the heart of a cheerleader, always smiling and ready to remind visitors that all is well, or all will be well in the event that all is not well right now.
So you want someone who cares, passionately, about the brand and about the users, but not so much to be hurt by the occasional insult, flame, or rant, and certainly not so much as to not be able to deliver a perfectly composed and public response.
Where will we find such flawless specimens? How did you recruit your community managers?
Last week, I took a short trip to a client site. Even before I got back. I had three surveys in my in box, one for each of the flights I took and one from the hotel. Lucky me! I had taken the airline survey before, with its multiple screens, and I decided I was too busy to bother responding. The hotel survey promised it would only take ten minutes to complete it. Are they kidding? Who invests ten minutes revealing their deep thoughts about how the towels were folded? Certainly not a busy business traveller.
Are we asking too much from our customers? If we are truly interested in their feedback, we should make it easy for them to provide it. Few people outside support know or care to distinguish between the support engineer’s professionalism and his or her technical knowledge — but they can say whether they are satisfied or not, and they will gladly use a thoughtfully-provided comment field to say why. It takes some effort to read the comments, but why not place the effort on us, the recipient of the feedback goodness, rather than on the customer.
Three cheers for the ten-second survey (and its higher response rate).
How long does it take your customers to respond to your surveys? And have you ever asked yourself that question?