Online reputation management (ORM) is becoming an indispensable part of all brand communications strategies. With the second wave of COVID-19, sectors across the globe are going through disruption, curfew, and lockdown across states is causing unrest amongst customers, employees, labourers, shareholders, and all stakeholders. Online conversations are taking precedence and brands are being pushed to adopt this ‘bottom-up’ communication where the existing and potential customers are voicing their opinion/perceptions. ORM strategy will help brands navigate through all the online conversations, understand consumer feedback and also get insights into the native needs.
Let’s take the example of consumer appliance as a sector, there is a surge in demand for upgrading of home appliances that help in easing the daily household chores. Brands are facing a huge challenge to provide a seamless installation and demo of the products due to the lockdown restrictions, thus there are many negative reviews being posted online. Consumer appliance brands should have a response mechanism in place where all complaints/grievances are addressed in the minimum time possible.
Organizations have come up with a proactive ORM strategy to build a positive word of mouth through earned and owned media, this also helps them to build a digital safety net in case of a crisis.
So how do we get started with a well-planned ORM communications strategy?
- Conduct an Audit of the Brand Online
Consider this. 81% of buyers do some online research before making a purchase, the way your brand is represented online is the key influencing factor in making the decision. Google is the most preferred search engine, do a check on Google My Business-related features come up on that page and evaluate customer ratings, comments, reviews, and user-generated photos. Do a scan of social media and review sites such as MouthShut for overall customer reviews and feedback. Invest in an effective brand monitoring tool to get a real time update on any negative and positive customer reviews as it would help the brand to stay on top of feedback and also be responsive.
- Be Responsive and Have a Personalized Approach
According to a Lee Resource study, 70% of customers who complained and got a satisfying response from the business will come back and do business again. As soon as your ORM flags a negative review or eedback from a customer, make sure to have a response that is backed by human intelligence. While most brands have an in-built chatbot on the website and app, it is critical to understand human emotions before shooting a robotic response. We all remember the customer review for an airline by a celebrity that was responded to by a chatbot.
- Respond in Public as well as have a One-to-One Conversation
Brands should acknowledge negative comments, reviews, feedback publicly, have an empathic response but make sure to have a more detailed conversation offline. You can take time to understand the problem, connect with the relevant teams, and then share a thoughtful response with an appropriate action to build customer trust. Remember to follow up and make sure their concerns were duly addressed to build the long-term customer lifetime value.
- Build Positive WOM Online
Your PR team should work on thought leadership articles that have some relevant keywords that help to appear organically in the search engine. Request for positive reviews from customers on review sites and most importantly on Google My Business. You could even leverage owned media such as website, social media and digital newsletters to seed in customer testimonials as well. Such reviews help to build credibility and trust among prospective customers as well.
I hope that the above is a good starting point for drafting a customized online reputation management strategy for your organization. Will be great, if you could share how your organization is currently using ORM to build the overall brand reputation.
Richa Seth, senior account director, Adfactors PR