Many brands are going to be pressured to reduce the amount of money they are investing in marketing and PR. So will they see social media listening and engagement as a "marketing experiment" or will they see this as a natural extension of their customer relationship building (support, sales, partnerships etc...)?
Will customers be any less likely to be sharing opinions/likes/dislikes/issues/needs online during a recession or more?
When things are not going so well, when we feel pressure, as in uncertain economic times like we are experiencing in the current down cycle, we become even more argumentative. I do expect customer service to really take center stage. Given that, and the fact that companies are using social media more to serve customers, how can employees and companies avoid social media burnout?
While there may also be the physical stress of trying to keep up with the 24/7 social media schedule, burnout is as worrisome, as it leads to emotional damage. Signs of burnout tend to be more mental. Feelings of powerlessness, frustration, being taped, cynicism, irritability and emotional exhaustion.
Jobs in customer service can be emotionally taxing. Adding the social media component escalates the magnitude of exposure to burnout - when caring about work seems like a total waste of energy. That transfers over to dealings with customers, who will in turn probably be more prone to sharing their opinions, frustrations, and issues online - especially during hard economic cycles.
Social media can provide a way for your employees to deal with burnout, if you’ll let them. By allowing them to take time to cultivate relationships with other people online and face to face - and not just dealing with customer issues - your employees can become more effective in their work and care for your customers better. Some ideas:
- Provide ways for employees to develop casual relationships with colleagues, on and off site. There is a reason why with the tech boom, many start-ups bought fussball and tennis tables. People need a break and we are social animals. Yes, that can also mean hanging out on social networks. Consider the benefit that using some form of social networking tools internally can give you.
- Allow employees to connect with the communities they care about. Many companies have some centralized version of cause joining opportunities, like United Way, Companies that Care, etc. This goes beyond that to include professional associations, and other groups that may be personally meaningful for employees. If you have a whole group of customer care people on Twitter or on Facebook, do you allow them to select social media conferences and events they’d like to attend?
- Keep them in the loop and stay in the loop yourself. These professionals who are helping you in digital environments are outposts for your brand. Do you keep them informed of what’s going on? This will avid embarrassing and stressful situations where they will learn what’s going on from your customers. As well, you should make sure you are accessible to them on the fly to help them be productive and responsive fast.
With social media, you may be tempted to stretch your people and budgets much thinner. It’s also tempting to have more virtual workers - they are online, but isolated physically. Resist the temptation. Give employees more ways to personalize their own schedule and participation, shift the control more towards them, and allow them to take breaks and be with others.
Even though the work is not physically hard, dealing with customer issues online is as intense mentally as mining is for the body. Support your employees so they can avoid social media burnout.