4 Tips on How Government Uses Social Media During a Crisis

Crisis or catastrophes like hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, and the current pandemic, Coronavirus, pose a unique challenge for government contact centers. Each day, government contact centers have a duty to provide citizens with factual information and critical answers about government services, but when facing a crisis, the importance of that information is magnified. Customers look to the government for guidance, and we provide it. One of the most efficient ways to do this is through our social media channels.

Here are a few tips I’ve learned through multiple experiences leading government contact center operations during a crisis or catastrophic events:

Prepare Ahead of Time

Government contact center leaders must remember, like the crisis or catastrophic event itself, the best way to handle an emergency is to prepare for it ahead of time. So, during a crisis or catastrophic events, this means, using our resources and collecting data before the panic, and staying up to date on the pandemic’s progress.

Have a Practice in Place

In order to be effective during a crisis or catastrophic event, you have to have a strategy in place. Social media strategies are not born overnight, and they certainly are not created on-the-fly during emergencies. Strategies take time and practice to develop. Know your administration’s or department’s goals, identity, objectives, and customers before jumping into an all-around high-risk situation.

Keep Your Message Consistent

When people are panicked there tends to be a lot of miscommunication and inaccurate information circulating. As a source of data and a connection to government services, government contact center leaders can’t risk communicating out false information. False information during times of crisis can lead to people getting hurt. Refrain from reposting information from unknown sources.

Stay Calm

It is easy to get overwhelmed during a crisis, especially when you have an influx of people contacting you and reporting the same issues. However, panicking doesn’t help anyone. Find effective ways to save time, don’t let customers get lost in the shuffle, and treat everyone with care and consideration. Customer service should not get lost during these moments; it should shine!

Social media platforms are crucial in a crisis or catastrophic event and help extend a government contact center’s reach. Customers use the internet to connect with social media and not just to search for information. The goal of the government contact center is to provide customers with a single, real-time, and responsive platform to receive the information that they needed most in order to guarantee their safety.

5 Crisis Management Strategies for Contact Centers

I recently created a post noting government leaders are increasing the inclusion of the 311 non-emergency contact center operations into their crisis emergency communications strategy and reaching out to the media to advise the public to call the 311 contact center operations during catastrophic events.

The benefits of driving the public to contact 311 for customer support allow the city’s 911 centers to focus on active emergencies, ensures consistency and accuracy of messaging and provides real-time data and stakeholder reports identifying the public’s concerns or complaints trends.

Stephanie Thum, the founder of Practical CX, reached out to me to for an in-depth interview on best practices guidelines for leaders to incorporate in preparation for or during a crisis.

Here’s the link to the interview: Contact centers during crisis: An action plan from experts