Practically everyone is online, and what they are saying about your business or services affect the perceptions of your brand. What used to be Mr. Jones telling Mr. Smith in the small town of Freehold, New Jersey about the baseball memorabilia in your store that no one else can find and folks coming to your small brick and mortar establishment from as far away as Brooklyn, New York has now changed into comments, posts, feedback, and everything about your brand and your customer service across the nation and overseas.
The internet invites ordinary users to express their opinions about your brand, your product, and the services you provide. Check out Twitter, Facebook, Digg, and LinkedIn, just to name a few. Read what people say, and know that you no longer have a choice not to participate since the 'computer word of mouth' has become a powerful friend or enemy - depending on how you are building online relationships.
Online Reputation Management (ORM) claims to help you with your "digital footprint." It is designed to improve your online reputation, improve your brand image, increase customers, and combat negative feedback. Using Google, Yahoo, and Bing which are the most popular consumer websites, ORM claims to find the problem, evaluate the problem, and then strive to repair your online image. As an example, a local hairdresser has a stellar reputation in the area for her expertise in color, that is until one of her clients left her shop and felt her new red hair shade wasn't nearly as red as it should have been. Unfortunately for the hairdresser, the unhappy client was a high-profile blogger, and before long the adverse effects on the hairdresser's brand image began to cost her customers.
The ORM quickly began to monitor what was being said on Twitter and responded quickly with an apology and an invitation for the client to return to the salon for the color correction. Even though the client never said a word to the hairdresser that she was dissatisfied with the hair shade, the polite customer service response was to apologize and invite the customer back. Never make the customer look bad in front of anyone.
Treating customers right, selling quality services or merchandise, and great customer service preserves and strengthens a company's online reputation, and isn't that what works best?