Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Social Media is Your New Front Desk - Who's Answering The Phone?

For fourteen years, I worked at an advertising agency that was, for many of those years, voted the most-respected agency in the field. This agency had the world's most amazing receptionists.

The two women who answered the phones were the most professional receptionists I'd ever encountered. When I arrived for my interview, they knew who I was supposed to see and when. In my years of working there, I saw them memorize clients names, the account representatives they belonged to and even family members. As a client, you were greeted by name, the person you would want to speak with was known - and their whereabouts were confirmed for you. "Oh, John, hi! Jane is out of the office, but she'll be back by 1. I'll have her call you." You were never told to call back - you would always be called.

I have never again encountered receptionists that good. A colleague recently told me about their new receptionist who, when asked to transfer a call to a department in their company replied with "I don't work for that department." As it happens, she was not only inappropriate, but she was also wrong. Sure, she was corrected, but what damage had been done? A potential client was turned away...or a current client was stonewalled. What message does that send?

The same holds true for Social Media. In many cases, your Social Media profiles are peoples' first contact with your company.

There is a company in my industry with a problematic Twitter feed. The tweets are full of factual, grammar and spelling errors. A recent April Fool's Day joke was tasteless and potentially actionable. The joke among industry peers is that we shouldn't bug the poor, unsupervised intern. There is a high likelihood of this being the truth about this Twitter feed. Clearly, no one is watching them, training them, editing or vetting these tweets. And if this is not the truth, what does it say about the company?

Think of Social Media as your front desk. Do you put your best, most dedicated employees out there to make first-line contact? Would you put an uninspired, untrained intern on the front desk?

You know who answers your phones - know who is responsible for your Social Media. Give them clear, specific rules of interaction so that every time they interact with a client or potential client, you put your best foot forward. Your new Front Desk is waiting for a fantastic receptionist.
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