I sat down with Trish Fontanilla, the Vice President of Community and Customer Experience at Vsnap. Fontanilla has built a community from the ground up; she started working with the company before its product was launched.
Since Vsnap is a startup company, Fontanilla is a one-person team in regards to handling Vsnap’s social media feeds and overall customer experience. As a result, Fontanilla has acquired a lot of different skills when it comes to handling an online community.
You have value in every aspect of the business
Fontanilla said that she participates in almost every company meeting. As a community manager, Fontanilla has insight as to what the customers want.
“I think that in every department, someone needs the voice of the community,” Fontanilla said. “Someone needs to talk on behalf of the customers.”
The use of sentiment analysis provides Vsnap with an understanding of how customers feel about its product. Fontanilla uses this information to shape product development, and enhance the customer’s overall experience.
“[I] could easily pop into any meeting and have a valuable perspective,” Fontanilla said.
You get to hear the news first
A great part about handling the community is that many customers reach out to Fontanilla about their experiences with the product. Relaying this feedback to the product development team helps shape the application.
“I’m pretty much the first person that gets to hear really awesome customer stories,” Fontanilla said. “On the flip side of that, I also get to see when people are not happy with us.”
Know why you are apologizing
It’s no surprise that customers use social media to voice their displeasure with a product.
“One of the reasons people lash out on social media is because they feel like no one is listening,” Fontanilla said.
While it is important to apologize, Fontanilla said that you first need to listen. It is important to know why you are apologizing, and how you can help the customer. Simply scanning an email for keywords and giving a bland response is not enough; the reply needs to be tailored to each individual customer. Make sure that you are alleviating the customers’ needs.
Your social media sites are not PR
Realize that your community is not simply public relations for the company. Fontanilla stressed the importance of promoting other local businesses and events through her social media feeds. The value is that the favor could be reciprocated in the near future.
Also, try to take these relationships offline as often as possible. When Fontanilla was working for Bands In Town, she would meet up with local, active community members at concerts. The more you can interact with your customers, the better.
The full interview is available here. Enjoy.