Bad Customer Service? 82% of customers will leave you!

Brand value is all about what people experience of the product and customer service. The Customer Experience Impact Report reveals that finally it boils down to customer service and 82% of customers will leave you because of bad customer service.

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Facebook: Employer spies are watching you!

Here they are finally out in the open – an actual company that spies on your online activity in social networks for employers. No more the stuff of urban legends – this is the real deal. Meet the Big Brother Screening Your Social Media For Employers – SCI Corp. They crawl the social networks and take screen shots of your shenanigans for recruiters and employers!!! Can Online Reputation Management be any more relevant?

According to Santa Barbara-based Social Intelligence Corp., companies look mainly for objectionable behavior and they do report the good stuff as well. CEO Max Drucker explains…

“I personally think we’re moving away from the one-page résumé, I think we’re moving toward where your online history is your résumé.”

If online history is like a résumé this is also a chance for some great PR, so if you shied away from posting videos, photos and links to your accolades on Facebook you may have lost a few good jobs by now. So by no means abstain from social media because networking is the way to be in the Online world even though big brother could be watching you.

As online reputation managers we are a step ahead of this situation; we monitor, defend and make sure your laurels are visible to whoever that’s watching. Celebrities are often caught with foot-in-the-mouth disease on Twitter, but then, they have an army to protect their interests and to turn anything into good publicity.

Moreover, people tend to have different faces in different social networks, it is totally up to the views of those looking as to how each lapse in judgement is viewed. The other worry is if each screen shot will be analysed in context to the nature of the network involved. What and how you portray yourself on Twitter and Facebook are totally different, but will it be judged so?

However, proof of lapse-in-judgment is finally all about perception. And perception is what we, at Reputation Management For.com, can help change or enhance.

So, what’s the one thing that can help you smoothly sail through social network screening by employers? To that we’d say – “Common sense!”

Reputation Management and HR

Does HR (Human Resource) play an effective role to strengthen your reputation? This has been a long debated topic! Well, being the most essential and valued part of any business HR to a large extent plays an active role in shaping the reputation of your firm. HR represents the company’s reputation internally which is most valued and includes answers to what the employees feels for the company, or do they seek a role in the firm, etc. It may seem a passive factor, but it’s a most vulnerable area, where most companies falter.

Building up a good PR and reputation internally in the company reduces more than half the chances for a firm to risk its reputation.

Monitoring the internal reputation is something which most of the companies overlook; HR needs to analyze the feedback from the employees. To act unaware increases the probability for the company to earn a bad name from its own employees, this further spreads like a virus, damaging the bonhomie. To have an effective HR department reduces the risk of such internal unrest and keeps the company’s reputation protected from any employee criticisms in social networks.

Social media too develops a strong link among employees and the company, bringing in a blog or message board helps to know what the employees are looking for or facing or lacking, and gives the company the space to restructure its plans accordingly. Employees’ interest account most for any firm to stand strong, and if the employees lose trust from the firm then nothing can be done. With over 1 billion blogs and other social networking sites it’s really easy to get a bad name, and when such negative stuff comes out from your own employees’ mouth then the damage is even worse.

Reduce the risk of a bad image for your business and keep your reputation high with happy employees and their positive image of the company with effective Human Resource Management.

Reputation Management of the dude kind!

What’s reputation management got to do with a guy who rarely goes out of his house, you may wonder. But, then like all great ideas that go ka-ching ka-ching and rakes in the money, this one is  so simple that you’re going to kick yourself for not having thought about it first.

Drum-rolls for Jason Sadler, a guy who wears T-shirts for a living and has made $85,000 this year doing just that. Jason wears T-shirts for all kinds of people – people like you and me, celebrities who have a new line of products to promote and even companies looking to get the word out about their products. He blogs about it, Tweets about it and even does live video streaming wearing the T-shirt with logos his clients have paid him to wear on YouTube.

Talk about having a light bulb moment and even as you say “why didn’t I think of that” Jason labours on for his clients who can get him to wear a T-shirt for $1 on Jan 1 and $2 for Jan 2 and so on till Dec 31 he gets paid $365. He is so busy that he plans to recruit an assistant in 2010 and expand to Europe and South America and is going to charge $2 for Jan 1 and $4 for Jan 2 and so on in 2010 with the – “two dudes in your shirt” marketing tag as he calls it.

Here’s a guy who will Tweet your grandmother’s birthday wishes wearing a T-shirt or inform the public of new line of products or even get your online reputation given a quick boost like Bill Cosby did with Jason’s help. 

Online reputation management has found for itself a new dude in Jason Sadler and his quirky idea and he works hard for his clients on Twitter, Facebook and Youtube. I give a thumbs up for this great idea.

How does Reputation Management relate to web management?

In business and in life, reputation is everything. So it goes on the web as well. Your web site is considered one of the representations of your reputation of your business. You and your business together forms your web site. When disatisfied customers complain about your company in discussion forums, and chat rooms around the web, that is another representation of your reputation.

You are what people are saying about you. The blogs convey the public thoughts and moods to express good or bad points and emotions. To minimize damages due to inflammatory websites and weblogs launched by consumers, some use the same reactive tactics. Given the increasing popularity and development of search engines, these tactics have become more important than ever.

In the years ahead, reputation will become even more important on the web. To be successful, you will need to manage your reputation on and off your web site. Software services are emerging nowadays that measure and record reputation in quantitative and qualitative ways. Search Engine Reputation Management tactics are often employed by companies and increasingly by individuals who seek to proactively shield their reputations or brands from damaging contents.
These tactics have become more important than ever due to the increasing popularity and development of search engines. We can help your company develop a reputation management strategy by assessing high-level analysis of the business, industry, competition, and customers. That is the analysis of the key phrases, web site visitors,source of prospective customers and competitiveness of the search results for those phrases.

Corporate Avatars & Reputation Risk

Gartner Group – the once fashionable purveyors of reports on online business – have recommended that corporates get their heads around the use of avatars within corporate enviroments. (Press release here)

They have 6 recommendations for businesses as they point out that the use of avatars is becoming both more widespread and inevitable.

1. Help users learn to control their avatars. For most people, controlling and using an avatar is not viewed as intuitive or easy, but like any skill, after a few sessions a user can master the basics. The platform being used can also be an important factor, but improvements in optimizing virtual environment memory have lessened this issue.

2. Recognize that users will have a personal affinity with their avatar.Users often take pride in their avatar and dress them up or down. For enterprises, this is where dress codes can come into play, if the avatar is being used for company business. Early efforts with avatar appearance have often been viewed as an inhibitor to adoption but this issue should fade as quicker and easier methods of configuring avatars become available.

3. Educate users on the risks and responsibilities of reputation management. Organizations can avoid problems with employees mixing their personal and professional avatar interaction and activities by suggesting that employees use one avatar for their work interactions and another avatar for personal activities.

4. Extend the code of conduct to include avatars in 3-D virtual environments. Just as with social networking sites and individual Web pages where employees participate as representatives of their employer, an avatar’s behavior and appearance are a reflection of the individual and the company they work for. Companies with codes of conduct for other Web activities, such as blogging, should be able to extend those policies into virtual environments. However, because 3-D environments add the visual dimension, they will need to make sure that their policies also cover dress codes.

5. Explore the business case for avatars. Justifying avatar use in a business setting is becoming easier, in part because avatar use is gaining wider acceptance. Training and virtual meetings are the top use cases, and one of the main reasons for the increased use of avatars is cost.

6. Encourage usage and enterprise pilots. Looking ahead, one of the biggest uses of avatars appears to be for online meetings. Web meetings are emerging as an important new use case for virtual environments, and this may be a good point at which to start learning about the issues and opportunities surrounding users and avatars. Enterprises may find that they have a willing and ready population of users who are familiar with avatars and their usage. Pilot testing is still the best option for starting to understand the issues that enterprises will face with increased avatar adoption.

Point three is an interesting case for how businesses interact with online worlds. 10 years ago it was common for individuals within business to use their own emails before businesses properly invested or managed corporate email systems (and it is still highly common in India).  Are avatars a similar case or does this represenan example of businesses trying to shape the behaviour of their employees in what I thought was an old style.

Moreover do we associate an avatar which is a personal representation with a corporate brand? How far should corporate guidelines go before they become restrictive or constraining. Put differently, corporate guidelines are so often lowest common denominator and suddenly we start seeing citibank avatars looking all alike.

Avatars are behavioural and as such as part of the brand culture of a company. Getting employees behind a brand is the key variable in brand success and integrity. Avatars are not reputational as such. If they are weird or represent the male chairman naked and big tits – it will certainly cause a story and then reputation might suffer. But presently nobody mistakes an avatar for a person as such and what the avatar does might be offputting but it wont be seen as indicative.

More pertinently corporates have to tread carefully around how much they control employees in the online space. Corporatising avatars is more likely to cause reputation loss if it is not handled carefully.

Reputation the definition

What does reputation actually mean?

The dictionary definition is

  1. The general estimation in which a person is held by the public.
  2. The state or situation of being held in high esteem.
  3. A specific characteristic or trait ascribed to a person or thing: a reputation for courtesy.

noun

  1. Public estimation of someone: character, name, report, repute. Informal rep. See respect/contempt/standing.
  2. Wide recognition for one’s deeds: celebrity, fame, famousness, notoriety, popularity, renown, repute. See knowledge/ignorance.
  3. A person’s high standing among others: dignity, good name, good report, honor, prestige, repute, respect, status. See respect/contempt/standing.

So how this effects you

Online reputation management or ORM is not a common phrase YET, like SEO was a term not used by average business owner 5 years ago.  As time progresses and people start to hear from customers “Did you know such and such said they are not happy with your service on a website X”, they will start looking for ORM services. How will potential customers know what to look for, the may start off with search terms like Search Engine Optimisation or Search Engine Marketing.  Although many SEO companies can help with ORM, it is altogether a bigger beast and requires a company with experience in the field.

Steps to online reputation management

The best steps to online reputation are definitely the pre-emptive measures, like any service if you call a plumber out at 10pm you will pay way more than if you can schedule a normal time.  Reputation management is much the same, unless you company name is a popular name like “Music Download ltd”  then for the most part a reputation management company should be able to get quick results quickly.

Some simple steps to help you get going:

  1. Make sure you have a well optimised site
  2. Sign up to Social Network Sites like facebook, twitter, etc
  3. Register blogs and wordpress
  4. Create some articles
  5. Do some online press release

Of course all this takes time and resources so if you need a hand then get in touch and we can certainly do a lot of the work needed to help your reputation online.

Worm in the Apple

Apple’s reputation has always been good thanks to the passionate advocacy of the Mac Fan Boy club who respond vociferously to any public criticism of their god. Regardless of the poor performance of the iPhone, they are hysterical in their support of any and all Apple products. The result is that few of the problems that arise with Mac products – broken screens, overheating batteries, poor reception are properly aired in the media. According to techcrunch, that may be about to change as the tech community begins to return back to Microsoft.

Partly this is down to fashion. As Apple has moved mainstream, it has begun to lose its cool among techheads and the silicon valley internistas. Now everybody has an iphone or Macbook, it is no longer cool to be seen sporting one. Much better a linux netbook and Android phone.

My experience is that many of the people I meet who use iphones complain like hell about them. People who use ipods love them without ever being aware of any other products. For many consumers, an ipod is the only portable music player – a walkman without competitors. That says more about the cluelessness of the competitors whoc are still struggling with the combining of hardware and software.

When it comes to the reputation management, apple’s fans have been the reputation managers for the company. Apple itself always seems secretive, paranoid and slightly nasty. The problems facing Apple are threefold in this area:

  1. what happens when the company has to manage its reputation and not rely on its fans
  2. what happens when things like appstore do not rally such a lot of money losing developers
  3. when competitors finally get it! or android enables the hardware guys to produce phones that match the slickness of the iphone?

To date negative comment about apple gets drowned out by fans… when the fall silent.. then it will be interesting.

The secret to reputation management

The trick to reputation management is content, if you own blogs sites and social network accounts keeping these channels up to date and active is critical to your online reputation.

The main reasons is search engines like to see sites being updated with new content.  This shows that the site is still active and that you care about it.  The other main reason is for your customers.  How many times have you seen a site with a 2008 price list?  If you have content that is out of date it either means you’ve not bothered about updating your site or your business does not exist.

Make sure that you are updating your profiles, sites and blogs, most of the services we provide our clients with is keeping content up to date as this can be very time consuming.