When hiring a community management service company, don’t you think they should have a great community themselves?

We think so. That’s why ICUC works hard to nurture our relationships and communities while adhering to best practices.

We understand it’s tricky hiring for such an important service, so we want to help you understand what to look for in a community management company, what to ask, and why. Here are 5 questions you should consider during your next interview for a partner agency. 

1. “Do You Outsource?”

Outsourcing is potentially a huge issue regarding integrity, control, and standards.

Our team works exclusively for us, not for some third-party call center in faraway lands. Outsourced workers that aren’t affiliated with the company you’ve hired gives up control, quality and potential privacy issues. They’re hired help contracted at bargain rates.

The problem is you don’t know if those contracted third-parties follow industry standards. Maybe they use an “any means necessary” methodology.

ICUC employees receive in-depth situational training. They know when to escalate matters and when to deal with it then and there. They know how to authentically engage with your community, both positive and negative interactions. They also understand how to weave your brand voice together with product or service expertise in each customer interaction.

This brings us to negative comments, tools, and multiple communities.

2. “Do You Engage with Negative Comments?”

The answer you’re looking for is “yes.”

We know it feels like it might be easier to ignore or even remove negative comments. They feel like a blemish on your brand, but are they?

The ICUC take on that is “yeah, it depends, but often they are an opportunity.” There are of course times when it’s crucial to remove trolling, offensive, or threatening comments. That’s part of community management, but it’s important to know when to remove a comment and when to engage with it, and sometimes this is a very fine line.

It’s easy to fall into the trap that a negative comment is hurting your community, but frequently it provides insight into how your customers are feeling, just like a review does (FYI, you cannot remove negative reviews). What you do with these comments matters.

Customer service and social media now go hand-in-hand. They are irreversibly connected as more consumers turn to social media as their first communication method. Consumers will look at how you respond and engage with these and use that as an indication of your customer service quality.

Every community is going to have criticism, cynicism, and trolls. That’s part of being on the internet. Your community management service partner should be putting out fires and turning criticism into opportunities.

3. “What Community Management Platforms Will You Work With?”

The answer you are looking for should be “everything*.”

* Some platforms and tools are better than others, and ones suited for certain goals, audiences, and team sizes. If your needs don’t match the platform you are currently using a community management partner should recommend a different platform and provide the reasoning why you should make the switch.

There are a lot of platforms out there and sometimes it’s hard to make a switch due to legacy data, contracts, and the time required to learn a new system. Any community management company you work with needs to be able to work in multiple tools and platforms, even if they recommend switching to another one.

We personally have our preferences, including our own system, ICUC.Central. However, we believe in finding the right platform for you, regardless of what that is.

4. “Can You Cultivate Multiple Communities Within a Single Brand?”

Companies with a parent and child brand and those with multiple local communities and location-based social pages may have to build anywhere from a handful to a plethora of communities.

A community management partner is perfect for cultivating consistent communities using the same expertise and the appropriate brand voice in each. We don’t just mean making sure the brand voice matches; sometimes a local community needs a slight shift without sacrificing the brand.

For example, a national restaurant chain may need to use regional slang when responding to customers to feel more authentic. Little touches like that can make all of the difference, and sometimes regional slang is hard to pick up on unless the team has localized experience.

That’s part of why we are so proud of our localized teams who can use their regional expertise to engage communities in a way they expect while staying true to each company’s voice and tone.

Drill down into the little touches. Ask:

  • How prospective community management partners are able to handle various communities, and what little nuances they leverage.
  • How localized teams come into play, and go back to the question of outsourcing.
  • Whether the team they’ll be using to engage all of your communities has the required knowledge, or if they are all hired guns from a call center.

5. “Enough About Me. What About My Competitor?”

We’re glad you asked. We think it’s critical to see how your competitors are engaging their communities. If they’re constantly pacing ahead of you, we can mine their reviews and data to see what their customers are liking. This can be a valuable learning tool for you, and help you evaluate customer service effectiveness.

Many community management companies don’t offer this service, but we wonder what’s the point of knowing how well you are performing if you don’t know how anyone else is either. That’s like trying to play solitaire at a poker table, you won’t be walking away with many chips.

We’ll be able to tell you not only how well your competitors are performing, but also why their community is engaged.

We Get Community Management

Your company’s community is vital to your continuing success. Without good word of mouth, and an engaged community generating business is a struggle.

We use every trick in the trade to stay on top of who’s saying what and why about your business, and we know how to use it to your best advantage or to mitigate problems before they grow.

Communities are a 24/7 business, that’s why we use human-led algorithms with ICUC-trained experts around the world. We work around the clock and we’re always current with what the word on the web is.

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