Real life lessons to avoid online reputation damage

19-NovThe importance of Online Reputation Management or ORM for short is a topic we have touched on a few times over the past few months, most notably was our blog on 5 Steps to perfect your Online Reputation Management. But given what has been happening in the media over the past few weeks we have dedicated this week’s blog to drive home the fact that having an ORM system in place is not only vital for understanding your customers better but is also critical in saving your business from serious brand reputation damage. Case in point – Cell C.

A lot has been written about what pushed George Prokas to the point of forking out thousands on a banner to vent his frustrations and, whether it was right or wrong of him to do so we believe that Cell C will be feeling the backlash from this event for some time to come.

Not only did the banner put egg on their faces in traditional marketing terms but social media sites such as Twitter have been abuzz with everyone (customer or not) getting in on the conversation. Examples of a few tweets are:


But what could have been done to avoid all of this?

There were obviously many administration procedures that weren’t followed which Cell C CEO Jose dos Santos admitted to during an interview with Bruce Whitfield on Radio 702, however the golden rule of ORM is to respond to a negative comment quickly. By taking this step you are not only showing the customer that their complaint has been taken note of but it also demonstrates to the public watching the conversation that is unfolding before their eyes, that you as a brand or business are willing to engage with a customer on the platform of their choosing.

The next rule of ORM is to take the matter “off line”. By this we mean take the conversation to a new and more personal level, whether that is to send the customer an email or make a phone call apologising for the mistake and detailing the steps you intend to take to rectify it. The final step is to make sure you do what you said you would do and ensure the public knows about this on the social media platform that was chosen by your customer in the first place.

In an opinion piece penned for Business Day, Suhana Gordhan, an advertising industry creative director said Cell C missed a golden opportunity to turn negative publicity into something positive.

“Cell C missed an opportunity to rectify the problem . . . and to serve an ace with a genuine response. But perhaps the biggest negligence was the failure to warm the consumer’s heart again. One of the most powerful forms of advertising is exceptional customer service.”

In today’s world, the tables have turned on how the business world works; no longer can companies force information down the consumer’s throat. Today’s world is vastly different in the fact that customers hold far more power over the brands ability to sell versus the brand over its customers with buying power.

As Sam Walton said “There is only one boss and that is the customer – The customer can fire anybody from chairman on down by simply spending his money elsewhere.”

The question now is, what steps does your business have in place to avoid damage to its reputation? Should you need advice or assistance in setting up your ORM service please don’t hesitate to contact us here or on our various social media platforms below.
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