15 Replies Latest reply: Jul 27, 2010 9:42 AM by Trisha Liu RSS

    Addressing Risk

    Natalie Lopez

      Attention Technical/ Software Company Community Managers....

       

      How are you addressing the risk of employees posting something “stupid” on a community like promising a customer something they cannot deliver or something along those lines?

       

      I need examples asap for a preso to the exec team by the end of the week. Would love to hear from you.

       

      Thanks in advance!

      Natalie

        • Re: Addressing Risk
          Gia Lyons

          Hi Natalie,

           

          I just sent this as email to a few external community strategists/managers, but here's what I've seen from some of our customers:

           

          A lot of this risk is mitigated in communication and training that is delivered to key employees who will be participating in an external community, as well as published policies in the community that spell out what is and isn't "official" company responses.

           

          The best way to approach this is to communicate and train a small number of key employees about how to participate in the community, and make sure they are part of the group you soft launch to. That way, the way they initially participate becomes the example that others will follow. This is also an effective way to find "volunteers" among employees who are willing to help guide community participation, and perhaps function as ad hoc helpers for new employee participants.

           

          We've used this condensed Jive Strategy Consulting Engagement Plan method to plan this very thing for key groups of employees with several of our customers.

           

          I hope this helps!

            • Re: Addressing Risk
              Natalie Lopez

              thanks but still doesn't feel like something the execs will buy and feel confortable with. Was looking for something more substantial. Plus, we're not soft launching or limiting participation to a small group of people. Everyone can participate and respond. However, we will rely on community managers to oversee. Those people we will train but I guess I was looking for something like specific examples of what other companies are doing to show like a "best practices" type of deal.

                • Re: Addressing Risk
                  Gia Lyons

                  Yep, I've notified a few of our tech customers to reply with what they're doing. My reply was showing you the method by which they usually do it. People follow examples, and hardly ever read policies, so it's a best practice to seed the community with the type of content and behavior you want others to emulate.

                  • Re: Addressing Risk
                    Claire Flanagan

                    Natalie, when I think of risk, there are so many types of risk I need to understand and effectively mitigate (security, legal, data privacy, data protection - and then yes, community management).

                     

                    So I think from your question you are simply concerned right now of the risk that could be posed by an employee doing the wrong thing in the community.  How do you mitigate this? And how can you tell your executives that you have thought about all of your obligations in this area?

                     

                    To answer this for your executives they want to know that you know you have put in place all the right practices to prevent risk to begin with, but then you understand how to escalate if risk does occur.

                     

                    So I think you need to show your executives the following key areas:

                    • Prevention begins with good policies. Make sure you have the right social media policies in place to begin with. If you do not, be sure you evolve ones you already have. Know who exactly in your company should be the person to work with you on this. Your executives will love it if you show them you understand this is important and you are actively working with "XYZ stakeholder" to be sure our policies are updated and accurately address all the key areas. (For us it was our Deputy General Counsel responsible for compliance, data privacy and employee policies along with our HR and Corp Comm execs). We remind ALL employees that they must follow all other policies as well, this is no different. And you want to be sure all members have to read, review and acknowledge those policies before joining - and you will make sure these policies are persistently available in the community.
                    • Make sure you have a good community management governance structure.  You do need to have a governance model. Jive provides perfect! frameworks to think about this (and you can plug and play this information into your planning). Why is this important? Because you need to tell your management that communities are about people. Your managers of the communities do several things
                      1. They help stimulate discussion
                      2. They are informed on 'response tactics' - when to engage, when to guide, when to watch, when to ignore, when to escalate, when to route a conversation, when to delete
                      3. They play a role in representing your customer and prospect's experience of your brand. Their very engagement provides a level of "concierge" service that gives your members an experience of your company's brand. You need to be sure that experience is a positive one.
                      1. Make sure your community managers and the SME's understand their role in the governance model and are trained well for what's expected of them. Your brand depends upon it. Your executives want to know that you have expectations of these roles, and that you have done your due diligence in providing them all the training they need to be prepared and successful. I will tell you, I am so proud of one of our business units on this front who just launched their external community this week. We told them it wasn't enough to say they had a community manager or SME's, but that they needed to come up with a communication and training plan that dealt with this piece of education. And they used a "Carrot/Stick" approach. Carrot: Here are the incentives you will receive for all these right behaviors, contributions, etc, and yes, they're part of your KRA's. Stick: You must adhere to CSC policies on sharing company confidential information, you must be sure to represent CSC well, you must be professional, etc., "or else!!". (i.e. know, read, and live our policies online). And you need to be sure you deliver this before you launch your community. It's not enough to say you'll do it on the fly. First impressions count. And bad (or inappropriate) behavior can do more damage.
                      2. Make sure you have an escalation path to deal with an issue when it arises. Let's be honest. We're all human beings. Mistakes aren't necessarily malicious, like you said sometimes it's just "stupid" or an oversight. So you need to tell your executives you understand this well. You need to demonstrate that you have dealt effectively with prevention (with policy, governance and training) to minimize the chance that something will happen, but you also need to demonstrate that you have an escalation process in case something does happen. What is that? Well Jive makes it really easy for community members to mark "abuse". That's an easy way to route something to the administrator. But if someone didn't click report abuse, but you're pretty sure something should be dealt with, you need to have an escalation path outlined for your managers so the managers know what is expected of them (i.e. route the issue to someone in HR, route the issue to a business unit executive, route the issue to your community governance team for review, call the user, etc. etc.). Again, your executives will trust you when they know you've thought so thoroughly about both prevention and escalation.

                       

                       

                      I hope these ideas help. To be honest this is a big topic so I hope the summary response above will help you.

                    • Re: Addressing Risk
                      Amanda Shenon

                      Hi Natalie -

                       

                      Does your company have a Corporate Communications policy that covers things like talking about insider information etc?  Are there existing policies within your Support or Customer Service teams on how to interact with customers and what is appropriate information to share?  If so, I would leverage those things.  In balancing fear and risk around starting a community I think it's wise to emphasize that this is another communication mechanism and touch point and that people should think about it that way.  Someone can make a "stupid" promise via email or phone just as easily as they can do it in a discussion thread.  For things that the company considers sensitive like product release dates and release contents you may want a specific policy.   Customers will ask about those things so  maybe a particular person or group should be authorized to communicate on that and everyone else educated that they cannot make statements or promises about those things.  Hope that helps.  Good luck with your preso.

                        • Re: Addressing Risk
                          Claire Flanagan

                          And then be sure to quote AmandaS to your executives! She's right - we have used this as the final point in briefing our execs.

                           

                           

                          Someone can make a "stupid" promise via email or phone just as easily as  they can do it in a discussion thread.

                           

                           

                          I also love, love, love this quote from Walton Smith from Booz Allen Hamilton

                          "I can't prevent you from being stupid, but I can show everyone that you are."

                           

                          He uses this in his case study when he talks about how he managed executive expectations for what do we do if someone is stupid? Tools don't make people stupid, but they can make more transparent how stupid you are. So dealing with that is nothing new for business. We just have to know how to deal with the right issue with the right action (i.e. don't over-react to something that might have been a mistake, but take very seriously the issues that should be taken seriously.)

                           

                          Of course you'll tell your executives you can try to prevent. But when it happens you have a process for escalating or dealing with it.

                            • Re: Addressing Risk
                              Natalie Lopez

                              yah, this is a great quote. haha!

                               

                              i think that's the scary part though, the fact that it is unlike a phone call (between two people - unless it's a concall) or email (between two people - unless others are copied) it's a post that EVERYONE can see. that opens up the risk b/c now it is potentially involving a much larger audience. 

                                • Re: Addressing Risk
                                  Trisha Liu

                                  Natalie Lopez wrote:

                                   

                                  i think that's the scary part though, the fact that it is unlike a phone call (between two people - unless it's a concall) or email (between two people - unless others are copied) it's a post that EVERYONE can see. that opens up the risk b/c now it is potentially involving a much larger audience. 

                                   

                                  True, but it's OK. As Claire said, putting the escalation plan in place is key. If something happens, you'll be ready.

                                   

                                  To borrow from Groundswell: People are talking out there. They are talking about your company and products in Twitter, other forums, etc. When our customer community launched on Jive last year, some employees were concerned about customers bashing our company or products within the community. My response: if customers feel that way, they are going to bash us anyway. Better to have it happen in a community that we own, so that we can respond directly and engage.

                                   

                                  Yes, there is a risk that an employee will make a mistake and say something that the company did not approve. But if it happens, your team will have an opportunity to respond and turn it around.

                                   

                                  Another example: A community member started a thread asking other members to compare our products to one of our key competitors. Employees here were concerned about this thread. We did not take action - just watched and waited. The conversation that took place was reasoned, thoughtful, no products were bashed on either side. There was across-the-board support for our product. Great outcome, no cause for concern, and nice exposure to the rest of the community.

                                   

                                  Yes, there is risk. Yes, it is good to plan. And yes, it is possible that the fear will not come to pass, and unexpected, pleasant interactions will come along and surprise you!

                                   

                                  Trisha

                                    • Re: Addressing Risk
                                      Claire Flanagan

                                      Trisha, I love your point about purposely "not reacting" as an desired action. That reminds me of "ROI" (or return on ignoring), something my friend Ted Hopton shared with me and I repeat every opportunity I get Sometimes the community has a better way of handling an issue that one  person. As a community manager - you have to pick the right reaction   for the right issue. don't over-react. Don't under-react. Fine balance.

                                       

                                      And I also like your statement:

                                       

                                      And yes, it is possible that the fear will not come to pass, and  unexpected, pleasant interactions will come along and surprise you!
                            • Re: Addressing Risk
                              Trisha Liu

                              Hi Natalie -

                               

                              Echoing what Gia and Amanda have already shared, communication and training are the best way to prevent bad responses given to customers.

                               

                              However, it sounds like you are concerned about executive buy in. It might be useful to acknowledge that there is aways a risk, no matter the level, quality and quantity of training provided to employees.

                               

                              A key item to address is: If it happens, what do we do? If an employee provides inappropriate information, what steps will the Community Management team take to address this occurrence and move forward? For example, if inappropriate information is shared, another employee can follow up in the thread to clarify or redirect.

                               

                              My recommendations for bullets to include in an Exec-level presentation:

                               

                              • Social Media Policy that employees must agree and adhere to
                              • Training that will be provided to employees
                              • How will responses made by employees be monitored
                              • If an inappropriate response is made, what process will be followed to address the issue

                               

                              I hope this is helpful!

                               

                              Trisha