Online social media training enables a brand to develop a consistency of tone and style across its organisation. This is extremely important for the overall image of the brand – which on the one hand may be inchoate, chaotic and unformed; or on the other can be aligned so every employee interacts with every customer in a way characterised by its adherence to the brand’s personality.
Branding is ultimately concerned with creating a person with which customers and target clients can interact. Social media has taught us that people do not like to interact with a corporate entity – which in general terms they don’t trust.
Here, “trust” is used as an indicator of the amount of influence an entity has. So for example, a company or corporate name has (with some very well-designed exceptions) little traction as a “person of influence” on its customers – though it may have more as a person of influence for its clients and co-workers.
Customer facing influence must be exerted through recognisable, individual human beings: who the customer is more predisposed to trust. But those human beings should develop the concept of the brand, its proposition and its values, to ensure that the customers they talk to begin to recognise the personality the brand wishes to put across.
A lack of uniformity in individual tone and approach leads to a scattershot success rate as far as influence is concerned. One employee may influence customer decision making very effectively, by being friendly, polite, and approachable. Another, whose responses are surly or simply poorly expressed (bear in mind that the social media are a written forum, essentially), may influence customer decision making very poorly.
Also, an overall impression of a lack of coherence devalues customer trust in the brand as an entity. This has an even more serious effect where individual social media use on behalf of your brand highlights a lack of cohesion in terms of knowledge and processes.
“One hand not knowing what the other is doing” is an accusation often levied at large companies, for example brands whose customer services are conducted from large call centres or online customer service centres. Here, your employee’s use of social media is just as key – and behind that, the processes by which your whole brand makes social media work for it have to be questioned too.
If a customer initiates a complaint or service issue, is answered by one customer service representative and then responds to that response, it is absolutely essential that you have social media processes in place to ensure that the progress of the issue is smooth. Replications and contradictions, in tone or in information, completely devalue the whole customer service interaction, and can make a large dent in your brand’s overall reputation.
It is also important to note that uniformity of tone is not the same thing as delivering stock responses. The successful brand uses social media as a tool for conversation, not a platform for delivering rote comebacks to perceived customer service issues. Online social media training is there to teach your employees how to think like your brand, rather than just repeating approved responses.