Online customer service in times of crisis - How can you handle this?

In the case of an international crisis, such as our current situation, due to the outbreak of the Corona virus gives us a reflex that there is a great need for news and information. Social media is a vital source for many people. Messages are shared, liked and reactions are massive. Unfortunately, the reactions aren’t only positive and carry out negative charge. We have noticed that there’s a lot of disbelief. Our knowledge, institutes are being questioned, and conspiracy theories are being created. We are seeing a substantial increase of substantive questions: “What should I do in my specific situation?”


Good management of crisis communication

How to manage an enormous flow of questions and reactions during a crisis? A good organisation of your webcare team is crucial! 


Monitoring and listening

In the case of a crisis, the webcare team operates as an external information source of demand for your organization. The co-workers on this team are on the front line and the employees on this team are the ears and eyes of your organization. Because they are constantly monitoring and answering questions, they know exactly what information needs are at stake with the target group. The web team detects improvements in communication and will make suggestions for online communication. We ensure that this information is properly safeguarded so that it can be properly anticipated as an organization.

RIFF has developed standard processes to set up this feedback loop and allow it to function continuously (24/7 if necessary).


Tone of voice and escalationmatrix

Well-trained specialists know exactly what the communication guidelines are within the organization. Make sure your employees control your organization tone of voice so that they can deliver one consistent message even in times of crisis. All online questions, complaints and comments come into this team. They provide answering or escalating if to an internal expert. Make sure your employees know these guidelines well and can determine how to act within a crisis. To do this, draw up an escalation matrix that clearly states in which situation the employee should inform the organization.


Proactive engagement and knowledge management

A web care team can also help in a proactive way, by reacting to incorrect information in reactions and correcting this information. In this way, you can prevent the spread of incorrect information due to sentiment and fear. Train your employees to be able to quickly anticipate on a changing situation and act on the measures that apply. Good information provision in the team is crucial in this respect. Think of an extensive knowledge base that is regularly updated. In turn, the customer service team must be able to indicate which information is missing, so that it can be added quickly.


The secret

At a time of crisis communication there are only 2 important components: a transparent and fast internal communication, combined with a clear and consistent external communication. The tone of online sentiments must be constantly monitored. Because in times of crisis, the right answer alone is not always enough. The use of images or videos can certainly help in this respect.


Checklist on online customer service

  • Is there a clear tone of voice?
  • Are there rules of engagement? How are questions from the press, influencers, trolls, etc handeld?
  • Does the team have access to up-to-date knowledge?
  • Is there a process to quickly add missing knowledge?
  • Is there a clear escalation process at hand?
  • Is there continuous feedback from customer service into the organisation? Is the need for information clear?
  • Do you support your employees? To what extent can you make the work easy, can you support them by bringing them coffee/lunch? Can they work from home?
  • Are the systems set up in such a way that messages can be prioritised? By prioritising, certain signals/questions/complaints can be dealt with urgently. This avoids employees having to wrestle through mountains of retweets, amongst other things.


RIFF Digital Engagement

Do you need help organizing your webcare activities, setting up a webcare team or need extra manpower within an existing webcare team? RIFF Digital Engagement can help you with that! We can act and scale up quickly, depending on the needs of your company.

RIFF Digital Engagement is part of RIFF, the full-service agency specialising in providing solutions and services for the entire digital customer journey.

We help companies make the transition from (online) customer service to a complete digital customer engagement and/or setting up an omnichannel environment for customer contact.

Every company, in every sector, locally or internationally, will have to think and act digitally in the coming years to retain customers and remain successful. RIFF Digital Engagement enriches, improves and cherishes relationships through all your (online) channels. This leads to a consistent brand image and ultimately to a higher conversion. We are thé supplier for omnichannel customer contact, monitoring, measuring and increasing customer interaction.

Our employees are practical and proactive. Based on a solid implementation strategy, we will quickly take all necessary steps and actions. We understand better than anyone that every organisation should benefit directly from our work. We join forces with leading parties in the field of online customer service & customer engagement.

Be digital, stay human.