Community departments work with customers. Support departments work with customers. When everything breaks, who’s in charge?
In our experience, it’s a team effort. Support is often best positioned to work with development, verify whether issues are resolved, and handle support tickets. But when it comes to communicating your issues to the masses (which we really think you should do), Community knows how to be transparent while keeping people calm…especially in a public setting like Twitter.
Support folks are fantastic at calming individual customers, but it’s surprising how many of them get nervous in a public setting and may use language a seasoned community manager never would. And community managers are definitely not always the best at working an issue through from start to end; we’re a bit more emotional…which is a good thing most of the time, but generally not good when talking to developers!
It’s not about deficiencies, but more about gifts. Team up and use the gifts each group has to successfully resolve an issue. You can see a bit more about how we do this in our critical issue escalation process.
PS: What about PR?
Hahahaha, oh, that’s a good one…
PR should never be involved with communicating with your users. Their job is to make the company look good. That’s often diametrically opposed to the goal of the Community and Support departments: to keep the customer informed.
Yes, sometimes PR needs to be brought into the loop so they can communicate with the press (especially if you have shareholders). But the moment they get their fingers into communication with customers you’re going to lose that authentic transparency that makes your customers love you and give you more money. Keep ‘em out!
PPS: Support = Community?
There’s a bigger discussion to be had (which is happening at companies across the world) about whether these two departments are actually one, if support is a subset of community, etc. We won’t tackle that today…but we’d love to hear your thoughts about that subject on Twitter.
Arm wrestling photo courtesy of britl.