A lot of attention has been placed on the importance of Online Reputation Management (ORM) recently. Our Heavy Chefs have discussed a number of very good reasons as to why you should consider ORM as a tool to protect and promote your brand in the online environment.
We all know that the Internet can be a scary place for your brand as your most vocal critics can write angry tweets and scathing blog posts and broadcast them to all their followers – essentially the modern day equivalent of running down the street with a megaphone telling everyone that your brand sucks. But fear not – one of any number of ORM software solutions will save the day! You’ll be able to find all these people and quietly calm them down. One-by-one, ORM will turn every disgruntled customer into an evangelist for your brand and we’ll all live happily ever after.
Okay, so I might be exaggerating a little – Online Reputation Management can change the opinion of individual customers but it most definitely cannot ensure that we will all live happily ever after. The reason for this is very simple – using ORM can tell you which of your customers are unhappy but it will not automatically identify the core issues that angered your customers in the first place. These core issues may be difficult to identify, but if they are not dealt with, customers will eventually go back to complaining.
ORM tools and the data they collect will only be successful in building and strengthening your brand’s reputation if they are included as part of a broader business strategy. This strategy must encourage an organisation to use the information gathered while listening in on online conversations to find ways of improving their business processes. The end goal of this broader strategy should always be to offer the best possible customer service. Let’s take a look at an example that illustrates the difference between using ORM as a tool and using ORM as part of a customer service strategy:
Imagine a company, let’s call it Fidget Widget, which has a call centre to deal with customer queries. However, their call centre has not been able to handle the number of phone calls they have been receiving and their customers are getting annoyed with spending a long time on hold. A handful of customers are getting so annoyed that they have resorted to airing their grievance on twitter.
Fidget Widget’s ORM team have noticed that a few prominent online personalities (such as me…) have begun telling their communities about Fidget Widget’s poor service. In order to deal with this problem, the ORM team decide to quietly approach those people who are harming Fidget’s reputation, personally apologise for the bad service and give them a voucher to make up for the inconvenience. Assuming Fidget Widget do not use ORM as part of a broader business strategy, they would probably stop their ORM process now and be relieved to have put out the fires and briefly stopped the negative publicity online. However, if Fidget Widget fully understood how ORM could be used they would investigate why the call centre is getting so many queries. They would try finding ways to improve the call centre performance.
For instance, they might consider adding more questions and answers to the FAQ section of their website, they might mull over outsourcing their call centre to increase capacity or they could even think about improving the quality of their product manuals. There might be a number of different solutions to the core problem, but the point of the example is that ORM is the starting point and not the end point for improving customer service.
ORM is a time consuming and labour intensive task that can land up being very expensive; however, if it is paired with a broader strategy which aims to address the core issues, the true return on investment can be exceptional. If ORM is not used properly, it will just be a waste of time and resources and the improvements to brand reputation will be fleeting.