I recently read an article in Forbes by Tracy Foster on “The Nine Tips for Offering Exceptional Customer Service.” Every organization should build its social customer service strategy based this list as it really speaks to our current social climate. Customers want to engage with organizations that offer fast, effective, human interactions. Government organizations are no different. Customers want to engage with government on their terms, via social networks, usually through smartphones. Governments that are taking a proactive social approach are engaging more constituents in a more meaningful way. That’s why I adopted Tracy’s lists of “The Nine Tips for Offering Exceptional Customer Service in Government. With this, I explain how Tracy’s tips can relate to a government agency.
1. Be fast. Constituents have grown used to government agencies taking too long to respond to inquires. Social media has given agencies a gift by empowering employees to respond to concerns instantaneously. This is especially true in times of extreme weather or other stressful events. Social media allows agencies to update customers with valuable information in real-time.
2. Be thoughtful. Social media has also given agencies a chance to humanize government. Don’t be afraid to show a little personality. Show excitement when an event or story warrants it. If your agency might lose followers if it sounds too much like a robot, constantly pushing out information without real interaction.
3. Always respond to problems. Social media is a public platform. That means that customer concerns are aired to the public and, more importantly, the choice to ignore those concerns is public too. While certain situations require certain levels of sensitivity, as a rule, your organization should provide as much information to the customer as possible.
4. Send customers to where you want them to be. (Tracy’s explanation works perfectly for government agencies) If it’s an issue that can’t be solved in 140 characters, give customers a direct email address, and be sure that they are responded to as quickly as they would be on social media. If it’s a press inquiry, direct them immediately to the person who manages public relations.
5. Share success stories. As a government agency, someone is always telling your story; social media has given you the tools to tell your story too. Blog about your accomplishments. Government is too often reacting to stories when it can be proactively pushing stories out through blogs and other low-cost platforms.
6. Cultivate brand advocates. Whether your organization is in government or not, it should reward great customers. While private companies might have the money to give away ipads and other intriguing gifts, government has the resources to reward customers with facetime with top officials. Have a great customer who is always speaking highly of your organization? Schedule a meeting with the mayor or top official in your agency. This kind of reward is more valuable than you think.
7. Double-check spelling and grammar. Enough sed. (Just kidding.)
8. Be proactive in sharing product and company updates. Government resources are some of the least known-about products out there. For whatever reason, people are not aware of the services that could impact their lives. This tip goes along with #5, to proactively push-out your story and inform customers about the services you offer.
9. Go beyond the product. Your organization’s social media presence has the ability to be a resource in and of itself. With retweets, re-posts, and other sharing capabilities, your organization can constantly provide customers with valuable videos, articles, resources, pictures.
Do you have any other social media tips for government agency? Let me know in the comments! And thank you, Tracy, for the great article!
Rosetta Carrington Lue is the Chief Customer Service Officer and Senior Advisor to the City of Philadelphia’s Managing Director. Follow Rosetta on Twitter @Rosettalue or visit her blog at www.rosettacarringtonlue.com.