The Obvious Secret to Community Management

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the obvious secret to community management

I still see far too many companies focusing on the wrong things when it comes to community management. By now, legitimate players have figured out ways to avoid being overtly spammy in their online interactions. Many have stopped with the annoying interruptions that dominated their early efforts, but though improved, many are still missing the mark.

Community management is all about delighting people. Every interaction should have this goal. There will be times when delighting them just doesn’t happen, but with this as your aim, you can expect the best possible results. Below is an example of bad community management with and some suggestions for fixing it.

Example – Community Management The Wrong Way

I was in a prominent Chicago tea shop the other day and decided to check out what they had going on in the Twittersphere. As it turned out, an upset customer had just mentioned them in a tweet.

Here is what her tweet said:

“Hey @brandxyz #Flatiron, if you mess up someone’s drink order twice you should offer them a free one. #willnotbeback”

To this they responded:

“We don’t want to see you go! Please email us at and tell us what happened during your visit today.”

Not so bad right? While many may contest that this company was being helpful, I would argue that they totally blew a huge opportunity. This response is generic, pouty and doesn’t promise to remedy the situation. In addition, it asks the angry customer to send an email instead of handling the customer’s situation where they chose to interact. Could you imagine if you called a company with a problem, said you would never buy from them again and they said “Oh, that’s too bad. Please send us an email explaining your issue”? I just told you my issue!

Here is what this tweet could have said:

“Sorry you had a bad experience today. Are you still near the shop? I can remedy this for you right now.”

This opens up a dialog with the customer. In the process, there is a promise to make up for the customer’s bad experience and it doesn’t string the customer along. Better yet, it is all public! So many companies shy away from this, but I want others to see that I resolved this issue and offer great customer service.

There will be times when it makes sense to take a conversation off the public domain, but let’s be honest, this was not one of them. Even if this were an off the record situation, wouldn’t a personal email address have made the customer so much more confident about taking the time to email? And wouldn’t it make sense to end the public conversation with something more positive?

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