March 21, 2012

Building a Process to Accept Feedback From Your Social Media Audience


Source: via Nick on Pinterest


Editor’s Note: Nick Dawson, is a member of the External Advisory Board for the Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media.

So, you have a Facebook timeline for your hospital and you’ve been tweeting since before all those celebrities joined. You have wrangled through the legal concerns and assuaged senior leaders. You are on your way to healthcare social media greatness, right? Well, if your strategy doesn’t extend into the organization’s operations, you might have a few more i’s to dot and t’s to cross.

Learning to accept feedback is a challenge, for people and companies. How often do we hear a response to a concern which begins with: “Oh, we don’t do that…” Perhaps it is because most feedback is offered at a time of frustration.

Think about the person who has been sitting for too long in your waiting room. They probably aren’t in the best mood. So what do they do? People are turning to their social networks to vent about a frustrating experience.

There are two main challenges with accepting feedback: first, responding to it and, secondly, acting on it. Experts tell us people judge a customer service experience based on the reaction of the first person they contact. It is not always about solving the problem, sometimes it’s about how well we listen.

Have you ever seen a brand’s Facebook wall with page after page of unanswered customer feedback? If you are like me, the initial reaction is often: “why are they even online, are they just using social media to serve ads? I wish they’d at least acknowledge the posts…

The second part, acting on feedback, may be part of the reason so few brands engage. For many brands, social media lives somewhere under the marketing organizational tree. Traditionally, that team hasn’t been at the forefront of addressing customer needs. Promote the new practice? Sure! Solve the waiting room congestion? That’s something else entirely.

However, as tools like Twitter and Facebook become common connections between individuals and brands - sometimes even being the first point of contact - us social media leaders need to get good at accepting feedback.

So how do we, as the social media mavens of our healthcare organizations, learn to accept feedback? Organizational alignment is not an excuse for avoidance, but it may be where the opportunity lies. Social media teams should carefully consider their many audiences and their potential needs. Based on those needs, consider what parts of the organization are best positioned to support the audience. Build connections with those teams and help them understand how social media can help them; likely, it will be a win/win.

Here are some steps and ideas to help your team get better at feedback:

  • Audience assessment: look through your inbound tweets, Facebook wall posts and Foursquare tips to see which themes emerge. In all likelihood you’ll see everything from kudos to slander. But, what about job seekers or students looking for continuing education? What about patients needing an appointment? If you can identify your audience segments and their needs, you are well on your way.
  • Construct a relationship gap diagram: I think of these as the Lego building blocks for a well connected social strategy. Which people, teams or process plugs into this block? Once you know your audiences and their potential needs, you can identify where you have internal connection gaps. For instance, that tweet about long wait times in the ER - who on the ER team could help respond to and resolve that concern? Having those alliances ahead of time will save you a lot of relationship building when the feedback comes in.
Photo Mar 19, 10 15 35 AM
example of an early gap graph sketched out on my iPad. We identified that our social team was not well equipped to respond to job seekers, but HR was. We also saw opportunities to plug in patient advocates for care-related concerns. Once we identified those gaps, we worked with those other teams to build a "connected" process.
  • Make it mutually beneficial: Remember selling your skeptical C-suite on social media? Well, you’re going to have to take your show on the road again. Fortunately, social has gained a lot of popularity in the last year so hopefully it won’t be too painful this time around. When meeting with leaders from other teams, try to position the relationship as mutually beneficial. Perhaps that ER nurse manager has been wanting to post pictures of the new waiting room, or connect with local EMS squads online. As you think through a process together, help those team leaders see the benefits.
  • Help them help you: Build your process in such a way that it is easy for those other teams to participate. You’ve reached out and built the relationship, now what happens when feedback comes in? Will you have one email contact for each team? Maybe a text would be easier? What is the expectation on turn around? Is there a potential action or resolution you could suggest to that person? Can you offer an affirmative close (“In two hours, I’ll move forward in replying to the tweet with ‘XYZ’, unless you suggest otherwise…”)
  • Share the results: Now that you have established a relationship and process with the right people around the organization, keep them engaged by sharing the outcome of your work together. Let them know how your audience accepts the responses they helped you craft. Keep them appraised of trends and sentiments about the hospital or clinic’s online reputation.
  • Follow up with the original post: Sometimes the stars will align and everyone in the hospital will move together like a symphony to resolve a concern. Other times, despite your best efforts, you may not be able to gather everyone together right away. Either way, don’t leave the customer hanging. You may not be able to resolve their concern right away, but you can at least acknowledge it. Let them know you’ve read their post and are working with your team and will reply with more information soon. Our patients and community are real people too, they know there is a community manager or small team on the other side of the Facebook wall; they don’t expect you to move mountains. They do expect you to listen though.

Lastly, think about how you use social tools in your personal life. Do you interact with brands? Do you expect them to respond when you engage them? Our patients and customers are no different in their usage. Building a process to accept, respond and react to feedback will go a long way in strengthening your strategy and engagement. You community will appreciate it!

*Do you have a process for feedback? What tips and tricks have you learned? How did your organization get there? *

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