HUMANS vs CHATBOTS

Providing customer support using social media is now an inevitable functionality for all brands. While doing so, a lot of support provision has shifted from traditional systems to social media and the pressure on social care teams has increased immensely. This has resulted in newer innovations to ease the weight, and given birth to “ChatBots”, software enabling responding to customer queries and complaints until human intervention is required.

This brings us to the question, how helpful are these bots really and are they actually doing good/better than human responses or are they good in their own unique ways. Let’s find out by looking at the infograph below, explaining the difference between human responses and bots.

Humans

How to “Content Differently”?

Over the years with changing market scenarios, most companies today have started investing in content marketing. However, what most companies miss out on, is to set a trend and not merely follow the ongoing trend. The recipe to content production sounds simple, all you got to do is find a few writers, find a few topics and write. Doesn’t sound like a right thing to do or does it?

But guess what, that’s exactly what’s happening in most organisations. So, how do we make the process more dynamic while making the content more valuable? The process will require a little bit of effort, but trust me it will pay off. I have curated a list of “Do’s” which might provide you some direction, if you are willing to take this daring path as well.

words

1. CURATE AND CREATE:
Why do the work alone? Involve the teams and you could be shooting for the stars. Expertise comes with experience. If you are about to generate content which is specific to a certain domain, why not get the content from the ones who actually do the work. This will provide more light and defined opinions about the topic being spoken about. It also helps skip the research and helps design more optimised content. Better knowledge of keywords, automatically comes with enhanced learning of a certain subject.

For example, you are about to write a piece on the latest technology advancements that your product has undergone. You might be aware of the changes at a superficial level but your buddies from the technical team would definitely be able to give you detailed insights. Why not make use of that then writing yet another generic piece of junk that nobody would read!

2. CUSTOMISE YOUR CONTENT:

Before going ahead with actually creating content, it is important to define the audience. Ask yourself the question, who are you writing for? If you have successfully defined your audience, you would realise that there are three types of audiences you cater to: 1. the general public and 2. Your clients and customers 3. Your prospects. All the audience groups, desire different types of content and it’s only fair to not shove unnecessary content in their faces.

Your general audience, isn’t looking for industry jargon or details of a report that your company has the capability to design. They are looking for generic content which can help increase their knowledge about a certain domain. On the other hand, your clients/customers/prospects are more concerned about how your company can benefit them, what your company’s stance in the market is or what the latest developments in your company are.

In fact, it’s even better if you can figure out the pain areas of your prospects/clients and provide them with content which talks about the same and possibly provides remedies as well. Who doesn’t wish for some good done at no cost!

3. SPREAD THE WORD:
Once your content is ready, it is time to get it out for criticism. But how do you make sure that your content is feeding maximum minds? Not every one of them would be an avid reader or not all of them would be willing to watch you 2 minute long, 15 slider presentation! This calls for being a good usherer and catering to all their needs as and where they wish for it. This can be easily achieved by making use of multiple mediums. For example, if you are a clothing brand and you have launched a latest line of clothing, where could you possibly talk about it? Create a video ad, get a celebrity blogger to write about your clothing line, promote on social media, display newspaper and magazine ads, create a radio jingle and the options are endless!

More popularly known as 360 degree communication, is what you need to really do. If you manage to get your marketing right, there’s no stopping you.

4. MIX AND MATCH:
All work and no fun can make life boring, same goes when it comes to content. You need to make sure that your audience stays interested in what you publish. If you inject them with similar content, all the time, it definitely gets boring. The solution is just like cooking an Indian dish, add some “masala” to your content.

Let me give you an example, if you are a technology based firm and you are constantly writing posts (blogs and other forms of content) related to the latest technology in the market or how your company has been advancing in the same field, it might start to get boring at some point. If you find an alternative and start writing about more fun topics, like how to add a funky look to your office or how to exercise while you work on those tedious codes, you could be attracting another set of minds to your readership group.

This in fact not just increases your content’s reach but also in some way adds to your marketing benefits. As they say, no advertising is bad advertising.

5. PERSONALISE:
Your content is craving for attention, if you can find yet another way to grab some, why not make use of it? One of the nicer ways of doing it would be by adding a personal touch to your marketing strategy. Oh no, I don’t mean targeted marketing here. Let me explain. You design content for various audience groups, existing customers/clients, prospects and general audience as mentioned earlier. However, since not everyone is interested in reading all forms of content, how about you segregate the content and make it simpler for them.

For example, add a pop up login section to your website, especially for your clients/prospects, who would like to know deeper details about your brand. Add an easy sign up option and the next time they need to browse your content, they know exactly where to go!

5 Steps to Choose the Right Social Media Monitoring Tool

Social Media has evolved immensely over the past few years, with hundreds and thousands of people signing up on a daily basis. The space in fact is constantly growing and the scope for companies to extract valuable customer insights is also increasing accordingly. So, how do the companies access this valuable information? Does human monitoring work perfectly to extract all the information that a strategically designed monitoring tool can?

image

Whether one likes it or not, the answer is actually NO! Our human eye misses out on a lot of information, which is important to make sure your social media strategy is on the right track. It also helps in targeting your customers better and at the right time. So, what exactly do companies look for, while choosing the best social media monitoring tools?

Here’s a brief about what is required:

1. Listening

The basic step to Social Media Monitoring is listening, i.e. keeping an eye on who is talking about your brand, where and when. This helps in making sure that you do not miss out on any information that is being disseminated about your brand, whether good or bad. In fact, this also helps the customer service desk to serve better, considering the consistency and well structured display of content, that they are supposed to respond to.

However, every monitoring tool might not be able to provide this. Therefore, it is necessary that one looks for specific features, such as the number of social media platforms that the tool supports a subscription with, the kind of keywords that the tool supports, the ease of removing spam messages and content. More the number of facilities the tool provides better are the results.

2. Integration

Another important aspect is the ability of the tool to integrate with other software, for better access to contacts and information. Especially if the company is also looking at providing support through the same tool, there needs to be a proper mechanism in place, which allows integrating customer lists, contacts and profiles for reference and also easy access to answers for frequently asked questions.

3. Features and Analysis

Every tool has a pre decided set of features, which helps customizing data visualisation according to the needs of the company. This includes viewing your data according to the choice of language you prefer, region you wish to focus on, demographics you need to look at or even the sentiment around the topic of search.
This helps in reaching perfect values for analysis of big data and deriving conclusions about trending topics, industry specific researches and more.

4. Spam Filtration

One of the most important aspects of Social Media Monitoring is being able to differentiate between real and valuable content versus spam content. If this process needs to be done manually, it might take the longest time. Therefore, it is necessary to use a tool which does the same for you by removing content which does not add value to your research, which is repetitive or which might be posted by unidentified people.

5. Budget

Another important aspect which needs to be considered while hiring/buying a monitoring tool is how much does the tool cost. If, the service the tool provides is not in line with the amount you pay to use it, it might turn out to be a complete waste. Considering it is a data extraction tool, specified volumes of data is offered at a particular pre decided rate. Making sure that you are receiving the right amount of data, at the right rate is something that companies should focus on while buying a monitoring tool.

Brands, Hashtags, Instagram Marketing and more!

Instagram has upped the social game over the last two years and has evolved from being a simple photo sharing platform to a full-fledged marketing platform. The statistics for Instagram has changed drastically as marketers realized its potential.

Instagram worked significantly well for most fashion brands and food tech companies. In fact, according to a recent study, more than 95% of US based fashion brands are on Instagram. Another predictive analysis has also revealed that the number of brands registered on Instagram (overall) will rise from over 48% to more than 70%.

This brings us to the question, why are brands really using Instagram? The answer is the huge user base and the platform’s usage itself. Hashtags are the new cool, and Instagram for sure is acing the hashtag game! So much so, that it has even overtaken Twitter over the last year. It might be hard to believe, but Instagram’s performance has been better than all other social media platforms. According to a study by Brandwatch, engagement with brands on Instagram is 10 times higher than Facebook, 54 times higher than Pinterest, and 84 times higher than Twitter.

This brings us to the question, are brands interacting with their customers on Instagram? The Instagram use-base is a whopping 500 million and only a mere 8% of this is not a constant user. Among this, maximum users are from the age group of less than 35 years. Interestingly, that is also the target audience for most brands (the earning population as well as the tech savvy one).

It has been long understood that visual content works best when it comes to marketing your product/content. Instagram therefore is one of the major places to be in while trying to promote your brand. However, it is equally important to understand your marketing goals and how to drive the same on a platform like Instagram.

Why and How?

If your aim is to increase awareness around your brand/products, you need to have a large following. Make sure that your audience is organic, this helps in making sure that your audience is genuinely interested in you and eventually, them being there would help you understand your audience segments in the future, strategically target your campaigns and finally increase your sales. This also requires you being present at the right places. “Hashtags” can be a great way to achieve this. There is always more power to your campaigns, when you run them with a certain hashtag. Another way to gain attention is by being present in the most common hashtag areas.

Creating visually appealing content, with call to action is a must. Host a contest, arrange a competition or run a campaign. This helps in increasing interaction with your customers and also increasing brand awareness, which eventually increases your followers count. To make your campaigns more successful, cross promote them on other social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. Also create an alert for your mailing list, if you get lucky they might just promote your campaign as well.

What’s next?

If your customers are on Instagram, they definitely have a lot of questions to ask. Are you simply posting on Instagram or are you also responding to those messages? Whether it is a complaint, a query or for that matter even an exclamation your audience should feel that they are being heard. Your Instagram audience is just like your girlfriend (or boyfriend), you are in a two way relationship and it goes beyond just striking the conversation and responding to their comments. Look at the bigger picture and nurture the relationship with personalized content/offers to make them feel special.

BONUS!

Don’t ever forget to reward your contest winners! They hate it when they make an effort and do not get appreciated for it.

Monitor and Measure

So, you have run a very visibly successful campaign and wish to see how it has actually performed. Here’s where social media monitoring tools come handy. While not all tools have the capability to measure all of Instagram, some tools do have the capability to do “hashtag tracking”. This allows a brand to understand how the hashtag you put your money on has performed and also derive meaningful insights, like how popular was it, who were a part of the audience which interacted with your brand, which gender your brand performs better with and the like. Benchmark against your competition to understand your market stance against them.

Are you an #instagrammer yet?

Choosing between In house ORM and Outsourced ORM

The debate about whether a brand should indulge in online reputation management is over and the answer has been cemented to a bold YES. The latest development in the case is about whether the job should be done in-house or outsourced. This decision is a crucial part of the strategic planning that goes behind designing a workflow, under which falls multiple segments like software decisions, designing SLAs, resource identification, response management, structured reporting.

Once the decisions about software selection based on requirements, SLAs and TATs have been taken, the next step is to identify efficient resources who can make sure the demands of the SLA are met while maintaining the decided upon first response time. Believe you me, this requires immense proficiency in communication as well as reasoning capabilities. So, if you are planning on hiring fresh pass outs for the job, for cost cutting purposes, you might just be putting your brands reputation at stake.

It is important to understand that once your brand is spoken about in the online space, you barely have any control about how it is going to be reacted to. The best you can do is try to keep the customers happy and prevent them from spilling any bad beans. Therefore, choosing the best crew to manage your ship is the only choice. The confusion here is whether to choose a bunch of people who have been long associated and has knowledge about your brand, but little knowledge about the relationship management process or to choose a group of people who are experts in that domain, but have little or no knowledge about your brand.

Before choosing any of the above, there are a few questions that you need to understand and answer to make the right choice.

1. Does your company have the required manpower; namely agents, account managers, researchers, analysts and domain experts?

2. If yes, do these resources perform multiple tasks at work and do they have enough time to dedicate towards ORM implementation.

3. Do you have expert analysts and the technology to keep track of how you and your competitors are performing online (24/7)?

4. Are there enough support experts to deal with complicated discrepancies or customizations?

If the above requirements have been met and you have the required workforce, you can give your in house ORM project a go. There are many advantages and disadvantages of having the project handled in-house, like:

Advantage:
1. You are extending your area of expertise, by adding another field of experience.
2. By engaging your in house resources for the process, you are reducing the risk of errors as they understand the dynamics of your business better.
3. The insights that are gained through online reputation management, does not get shared and remains with your company alone. This is qualitative and quantitative data, extremely important for building future strategies.

Disadvantage:

1. Industry knowledge is only one side of the coin; setting up ORM in-houses requires business process expertise, which needs to be built from scratch. Hence, consuming more time for the project to kick off.

2. In terms of cost-effectiveness outsourcing is more efficient, because they can take care of all the overhead processes related to training and maintaining the project, which gets tedious in-house.

3. Setting up an ORM team is equivalent to introducing a new department in an organization, hence the decision of making processes needs to come from the top management; which can be a big hurdle.

4. The process might turn out to be more time as well as resource consuming than estimated, because ORM is not just about human resource management but also technical implementation. For example, if you are planning to implement ORM as one of the focus areas of your company, it would require integration of multiple fields. Your company’s knowledge base, customer information base, etc. needs to be integrated with any external software being used for the process; and trust me integration is complicated and time consuming!

5. It also runs the risk of earning huge losses, due to latency or lethargy in the process, as well as due to lack of proper planning.

If your company does not have the required bandwidth of resources and expertise, it is best to outsource the project. Managing a brand online can be a very tedious task and handling it with sheer expertise is of utmost importance. An external ORM company has the experience they carry from handling other clients, which can be helpful in gaining better insights about your brand. However, outsourcing ORM can have its upside and downside as well.

Advantages:

1. Experts at work! The company handling your ORM comes with a past experience of working on similar projects and hence understands the domain and ways to keep your reputation maintained at an all-time good.

2. Expert project managers and support staff help in smooth functioning of the project and provide detailed insights. Their expertise in the field also helps handle customer relationships better and boil down to minimal response time on social media. This provides points for customer delight and allows good word of mouth corresponding great customer service.

Disadvantages:

1. An external partner doesn’t feel your brand’s ideology. They do not understand your brand inside out and hence might lead to a number of branding mistakes.

2. If the CRM tool in use is not one which has been proven to be best in the past, you might run the risk of huge losses due to unexpected software failures, lag in responding as well as integration falters.

3. If an understanding between the members of outsourced team and point of contacts from the brand has not been cemented, it might lead to a disastrous situation with extreme confusions and failed communication.

Whether in-house or outsourced, the main aim of Online Reputation Management is to understand what your customers and prospects believe about your brand. Successful ORM is only possible with the right mix of technology and manpower, which is also the deciding factor behind whether ORM should be handled in-house or should it be outsourced for better results.

Is your CRM practice Business Centric or Customer Centric?

social media customer service

 

Gone are the days when businesses had complete control over customer relationship management. Today the floor is more open and the process is a tie between both customers and businesses. In fact, it wouldn’t be wrong if we say CRM is more customer driven. CRM in fact is about keeping your customers happy by bettering their experience every time they reach you. Therefore, the next model of CRM needs to encompass two dimensions, namely the ability to track conversations related to your business faster than ever. Secondly, easy integration or ability to integrate customer information which is already stored in the database or is available on different social media platforms.

 

Here’s a list of implementations which need to be incorporated in the future CRM practices:

Keep customers at the center

The power of deciding the fate of a business is completely in the hands of the customers today. Your CRM approach can make or break your reputation, depending on:

  • Time taken to respond to customers.
  • Time taken to provide the resolution.
  • Measuring the experience after providing resolution.

Don’t get boggled by the elaborate presentations by CRM software companies displaying complicated dashboards and their command center abilities. The most important aspects of CRM still remains social media listening and the response dashboard. Therefore make sure that the software you are planning to implement has the ability to track messages faster than other tools and also is accompanied by a user friendly interface for faster action by agents.

An advanced CRM tool also comes with the provision to measure agent performance and keeping track of the amount of time taken to close a certain case. This helps to determine the average time taken by each agent to respond to a certain number of mentions. It also helps measure individual performances and generating elaborate reports about the pitfalls and highs in the working model of response management and developing strategies to better the same.

While measuring the performance is one way to understand the quality of CRM your company is providing customers, asking the customers is another and more effective way. A lot of CRM software have the provision to create easy surveys and circulating them among the registered customer base for feedback related to their experience with your company’s CRM quality.

Improve Customer Engagement

Your customers are everywhere and they communicate when and where they feel comfortable. They also expect you to be present wherever they are and respond to them fast.

Here’s what a CRM tool needs to be able to do to facilitate better engagement:

  • The ability to track messages from all channels. A CRM software which has access to the popular social media channels/review sites/ news and discussion forums/blogs and more should serve the purpose.
  • The next step is to automate the filtration process. This helps automating the segregation process and distributing messages into separate work-baskets which can be further designated to particular agents. This facilitates a smooth workflow, and allows faster responses and avoids confusion while multiple agents work on the same platform.
  • A unique “search” option, which can be supported by different forms of search modules allowing easy access to specific messages which require special attention, without wasting time in filtering thousands of data.

Customer Experience matters

So, how do we understand whether your customers are having a good or bad experience? Well, your CRM platform should be able to do the math for you. Most CRM technology today is accompanied by an integrated analytics platform, which allows easy access to quantitative information about various customer experience measurement scales.

Therefore before choosing a CRM software, businesses need to ask the following questions:

  • Does the software track how my customer relationship management strategy has fared in the past few months/years?
  • Does the software provide sentiment analysis based on the voice of the customer?
  • Does the software have the intelligence to provide me with feedback about message sentiment?
  • Does the software have the capability to suggest responses based on keyword identification?
  • Does the software allow easy identification and removal of duplicate messages/repetitive complainers?
  • Does the software allow an easy way forward for leads and fasten the “Sales” process?

If a software has the above mentioned capabilities, it is an obvious go ahead for businesses who wish to implement online CRM as one of their core functioning areas.

Every company needs to understand their customers to make sure they are communicating the right message to the right group of people. The marketing model for businesses has changed from a trial and error driven process to a more data driven one. Customers today are profiled into various categories based on their social media presence, activities and interests.

The question to be asked here is whether your CRM software provides you enough information about how many people in the market are interested in your product, what, where and how many people are talking about your brand in comparison to your competitor brands. This allows improve sales efforts, create better product mix, increase cross selling/up-selling and make effective marketing strategies and reduce spends while increasing profits.

The problem that businesses are facing is in finding platforms which provide all the above functionalities within a single platform. While most CRM tools are trying to incorporate as many options as possible, the fight to be the best is on.

Why Agencies Need Social Media Monitoring ?

Digital media and social media walk hand in hand. If you are managing the online front for a brand, which is new or old, you sure understand the need to investigate the environment well, before planning any action. A social media monitoring tool, which focuses on keeping you updated about your client’s overall social presence as well as gives you a comparison of them against their competitor is what you need.

The infograph below provides a detailed examination of what a social media monitoring tool helps you understand about the market and how it can help you present better ideas to your clients.

Social Media Monitoring for Digital Agencies Full

Social Media Analytics – Necessity or Luxury ?

Social Media Analytics

It is surprising how only a few companies are conducting competitive analysis based on social media data. Almost all processes today are cloud based and social media is becoming the hub of all communications. Keeping tab of what your competitors are doing and how they are faring on social media can help you strategize your social content better.

Social Media Analytics is the ideal way to determine competitor strength, not just based on the responsiveness they receive on social media posts, but also based on the amount/types of complaints they are receiving. This gives an estimate of the total mentions your competitors are getting online.

Most small companies choose to opt out of social media analysis, however the user graph has seen a growth over the past few years. The number still stands at a small 36% of businesses, who use social media analytics to determine more than just competitor performance.

Let’s take a look at few social media metrics, measuring which can help build your business better:

1. Reach: Audience growth is the metric to be measured here with reference to the number of likes for Facebook and the increase in number of followers in Twitter. This however is not simply the count of number of followers but a complete analysis of growth over time. This includes percentage figures of when and why the growth or depression in audience has occurred.

This metric can also be further refined by categorizing the growth of audience into various stages, for example number of new followers, number of followers gained during a particular campaign, number of followers lost due to better competitor performance and more. This growth rate helps you evaluate the performance of your various marketing/advertising endeavors, for future application.

2. Engagement: Facebook comes with their own metrics for post engagement and reach, however such metrics are still just the basics of measuring engagement. Social media Analytics on the other hand allows you to understand detailed metrics related to which content generated what amount of engagement, who are the people (age, gender, income group etc.) and differentiates them from the silent followers list.

How does your business benefit from growing number of followers? The trick here is to measure whether your marketing efforts are actually reaching the destined people. The amount and kind of engagement received on various content pieces gives an idea of whether the buzz around your brand is genuine or not. Analyzing the engagement rate against the total number of followers allows a brand to identify potential customer/prospects with ease.

3. Acquisition: The two main metrics to be considered here are returning visitors and referral points. Understanding whether the audience your campaign/channel is receiving are new visitors or returning ones is important. This helps in understanding the likeability of your brand and also the popularity your brand is generating over time.
Another important aspect to measure is whether the audience is routed to your channel via social media references or any other means. This metric can be easily acquired using a social media analytics tool or Google Analytics.

CTR (click through rate) is also an important metric which helps understand where your audience is coming from. A detailed study about the various types of conversations your marketing tactics generate and how effective your social networking profile is proving to be can help depict accurate growth.

4. Conversion: Striking a balance between increasing the number of visitors to your website and the number of sales you make is extremely important. This also requires well defined paths to reach those goals, for example a target driven campaign can help you increase your sale during a particular season.

This increases the need to keep a tab on how many people visited your site and how many actual conversions have happened. This coupled with audience behavior around returning customers and tracking the buying phase through social referral pointers helps increase your sales accountability.

5. Activity: While most of the other metrics are customer centric, this one is more brand driven. Except from observing how your marketing approaches are performing on social media, if your customer service is taken online, the same can help you understand how your brand is perceived against your competition. An easy analytics study about the amount of positive conversations around your brand VS the negative conversations can give you live feed about your brand’s performance.

Along with brand performance, this also helps reduce your expenditure. From a whole command center set up specifically for customer service, if the amount of queries to be taken offline can be reduced to minimum, it can cut a lot of cost. This leads to a lot of savings for your business.

Apart from these there are a number of metrics that needs to be kept in mind for a detailed social media analysis to be possible. As social media continues to grow and the dependency on both qualitative and quantitative data for strategical planning increases, analyzing social data has become extremely important.

Here’s a list of metrics that a social media analytics report ought to have:

1. Total mentions received by your brand between a given period of time, across social media platforms. This also includes data related to which platform incurred how many mentions, helping determine which social channel is working in favor of your brand and which isn’t. It also gives a day wise calculation of when your brand is spoken about most.

2. Total number of impressions along with the number of conversations around a particular post/piece of content can also be calculated. To add more value to the measure, analytics can also determine the number of unique authors and sources talking about your brand.

3. An analytics report also helps understand the high and low points around the content you share on social media, based on which future content strategy can be designed.

4. The places where the maximum amount of conversation around your brand/campaign is coming can also be determined using special social media analytics tactics.

5. Amazingly, analytics can also find the influencers who are talking about your brand, which can be used strategically to endorse your brand in the future.

6. It can also help determine the device used to talk about your brand, such as a computer, a mobile phone, tablet etc. Depending on the device used by maximum people, targeted campaigns can be hosted for future endeavors.

Step by Step Guide to the CRM Process

CRM can be challenging, not specifically the replying aspect, but identification and understanding the gravity of the messages. A reaction to a particular message, is a trigger from a chain reaction of understanding the type of message to decision making about what should be the reaction (replying, deleting or ignoring). This is a step by step guide to the details of Customer Relationship Management from an agent’s perspective:

1. Recognizing a message: Once a message has been tracked by your tool and assigned, the first step is to understand whether it is a message that requires your attention, is it spam and can be deleted or is it a generic comment about your brand/product which can be ignored.

a. Respond: It is important for you to hire agents who are fluent in multiple languages. This helps in understanding the messages better and taking actions accordingly. Responding to messages which are direct and simple (clearly a complaint or a query) is easy, however, this isn’t the case always. For example, a message might be framed in a sarcastic tone, however the tool might rate it as positive based on the set keywords. If one is not able to differentiate a message based on the tone, it might lead to taking incorrect actions which lead to an outrage among the customers (considering it is social media and everybody gets to see every mistake you make).

b. Ignore: Ignoring a message is a dicey decision, as it has its own repercussions. A customer might be complaining and you choose to ignore, might lead to hundreds of others retweeting/reposting the message, branding you as a not so customer friendly company! So, how do we decide which messages should be ignored?

Firstly, if the message is a generic comment, not necessarily targeted to your brand but brand like yours in general, it can be ignored. Secondly, if the customer is having a conversation with another customer regarding a service/product by your brand, but not necessarily raising a complaint or a query, the same can be ignored.
Thirdly, if a customer has been replied to in the past and the resolution is in process, however the customer is impatient, he/she can be replied to with an acknowledgement message and ignored later until the resolution is provided. This however, should be done carefully depending on the influential capacity of the customer and should also be followed up upon once the resolution is provided.

c. Delete: Deleting a message has its own good and bad side. Sometimes deleting a message can lead to an influx of negative comments from a lot of customers and might eventually turn out to be an advantage for competitor brands. Here’s a list of situations where using the delete option can be a better idea:

i) Wrong message: If your executive has made a mistake and sent out a message which is not relevant to the topic, if the mistake is detected before anyone reacts to it, it should be deleted immediately.

ii) Spam messages: A lot of times your competitor brands/unhappy customers/ advertisers post a lot of irrelevant content to your social media pages. These might lead to a lot of spam accumulating on your page. These should be deleted! (Read a detailed description about how span can harm your brand below.)
iii) False Claims: After checking and rechecking whether a person’s complaint is a valid one or fake, if found that a person is making fake accusations or false claims against your brand, the messages from that person can be deleted.

2. Checking before Responding: The most important element about maintaining good customer relationship management is remembering your existing customers. Therefore before responding to a customer it is important to check the following:

a. Whether the person has been responded to in the past or not? If it is a repetitive complainer, the case might require special attention.

b. If the person has been responded to in the past, when was the last response made. Accordingly, has resolution been provided for the problems the customer faced in the past, is it a complaint/query about a fresh topic or is it about a lingering problem?

c. What is the complaint history of the customer? Has he/she been complaining about any specific issue continuously (which might mean spamming in many cases or a case which has not be provided resolution for) or have they been genuinely complaining about various issues.
d. Another important thing is to check if the person has provided their contact details in the past. In this case brands can be proactive about their replies and add a friendly and comforting touch to the conversation. This not just leaves the customers happy but also reduces the chances of further negative comments from them.

3. Decision Making: The process of social CRM triggers a number of chain reactions. These reactions are based on instant decisions made based on which message requires what form of action. The first decision to be made is whether a message needs a response/can be ignored or should be deleted. If the message needs a reply, here’s a flowchart explaining how the process flows:

Capture

4. Follow up: Not all customers require a follow up. It is an added effort and hence should be used strategically. Three types of cases require special attention and require a follow up after the first level of response has been made. This is dependent not only on the type of problem shared but also on the popularity of the customer in concern. Here’s a list of type of complaints which require a follow up.

a. If a customer has been promised a resolution within a certain time frame, it is important to follow up and find out whether the problem has been solved or otherwise. This also makes the customers feel important and leads to better customer service reviews. If the resolution has not been provided, it might require special attention and if the customer’s problem is solved it might just earn you an appreciation!
b. Another important criteria which requires a follow up is when the customer is an influencer. They have a huge following and one negative/positive message from them can actually make a difference about the perception of your brand on social media. Therefore, when an influencer complains, it requires immediate attention and resolution. This should be followed up by a follow up message acknowledging the resolution provided.
c. A dig into the history of the complainer can provide details about long time complainers/repetitive complainers. These type of complainers require special attention. If a customer is unhappy with your brand, it is your responsibility to find out the problem and provide resolution at the earliest. You might also want to follow up and make sure their problems have been resolved to add goodwill to your company.

5. Closing a Case: The final step of successfully solving a customer’s problem is closing the case. This can be performed in two ways, partial/soft close, which means the case has been closed for a certain time period and requires a few hours/days for the resolution to be provided. In this case, a follow up after the designated time frame is a great idea.
A permanent case closure should take place only after making sure that resolution for a certain problem has been provided completely and the case does not require any to and fro of messages between the brand and customer.

A little bit about deleting spam messages:

Why do we delete customer messages while doing CRM?

As social media CRM continues to grow, maintaining the quality of conversations that appear on your brand pages has become extremely important. To get this streamlined, it is important to understand the 3 types of conversations related to a brand, i.e. positive, negative and neutral. The positive and negative messages are easy to deal with, if it is positive we appreciate it, if it is negative we take appropriate action on it. The most important genre of messages that needs to be dealt with are the neutral messages, which are neither brand related nor product related.

Most brands believe that deleting negative messages is the best solution, however we beg to differ here. It actually might not be the greatest idea because you can sure delete the messages from your page, but this does not stop the trend of increasing negativity around your brand. Instead this might just add fuel to the fire. Therefore it is better to reply to negative messages and rectify the mistakes if you have made any.

However, deleting some messages from your page is extremely important, but what are those messages? Those are nothing but the spam messages which are irrelevant to your brand, the products you sell or the industry you belong to. These spam or unrelated messages affect your brand and your ROI. If you keep all the unwanted messages on your social media pages, it sure will increase your quantitative quotient, but reduce your qualitative quotient. Consider this, for ORM, qualitative data is the most important aspect.

In other words, spam messages leave a huge impact on your ROI. How?

These spam or unwanted messages also generate negative SEO around your brand. So when people search with the keywords not associated with your brand/products, in search engines, and the keywords are a part of your spam messages, your brand page might appear to the users as well. When customers browse your page and see information that is not related to their search, they instantly exit the page. However, you do get charged for the click that has already been made and this affects your CPC (Cost per Click). If you create a budget for your daily CPC, it will hit the limit very fast, without even reaching your qualitative customers, eventually increasing your investment as well.

You might be a rich brand and your daily budget might be a big amount too, but does this help better your page’s rank? Spam/unrelated messages act as Black Hat SEO which can increase your page rank for a certain time but in the long run this might not be a healthy decision for the brand. After Google’s new algorithm update, it can now block any spam URL or pages which means your page might get permanently blocked as well.
Therefore to increase your brand’s value and page rank, along with a healthy ROI it is necessary to delete those messages from your page or from your comment section.

Why Online Reputation Management is critical for growth?

The concept of Online Reputation Management is still confusing for a lot of people. Most tend to confuse this concept with social media monitoring/analytics and a lot of them tend to mix it up with Public Relations. What most people fail to understand, are the dynamics of ORM, which is widely divided into two main dimensions namely engagement based ORM and customer support based ORM.

The difficult part about reputation management is that it is determined by your customers more than your efforts. However, it is in the company’s hands to make sure that your brand is perceived in a positive manner. Along with great actual service, making sure that every negative conversation about your brand is dealt immediately can help increase the positivity around your brand.

Let’s understand what Online Reputation Management means!

Google your brand. What do you read about yourself on the first page results of Google? Is it good or 9 out of 10 posts about your brand is negative? This is what determines your online reputation. If most conversations about your brand has been mentioned positively, you are a likeable brand and have a good brand reputation online.

On the other hand if your brand has been spoken negatively about in most cases, your brand’s reputation needs repair. This can be achieved by monitoring the brand’s online activities and the way people are reacting to the same. In case of negative conversations about your brand immediate actions to curb the problem should be taken.

In addition to googling your brand, try searching your brand name on Twitter or Facebook, do you see any difference? Twitter and Facebook are becoming increasingly relevant compared with Google for finding out what people think about your brand. This is because Twitter and Facebook are more real-time than Google.

But why do you need Online Reputation Management?

Selling on Internet has changed over the past years. From a top down approach, where customers could only purchase online and not share their experiences, the increasing use of social media has led to a market scenario where selling is led by customer choices. In fact it wouldn’t be wrong if we say that each customer is being paid attention personally by customizing communications to suit their time and place of availability.

With so much investment going in to reach each customer, losing even one can affect the company’s business. Therefore, online reputation management! It helps keep track of what each customer/prospect is talking about your brand and allows you to interact with them directly. This also helps in taking care of your unhappy customers and responding to them immediately to solve their problem and reducing the negative comments/reviews about your brand.

How to perform good online reputation management?

The best way to make sure that you do not miss out on any conversations about your brand is to use an ORM tool. These tools help track all conversations that involve your brand, unless it is a private conversation or a post where your brand has not been directly tagged (these are limitations from the social media platform’s end).

The basic “mantra” to amazing ORM is the “Track, Respond and Resolve” philosophy. Good social monitoring tools can, not just track mentions on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and the like but also identify conversations on various review sites/discussion forums and more.

A dedicated team who are experts in the customer relationship management field should be deployed to take care of any form of negative conversation instantly. This not just increases customer satisfaction rate but also reduces the chances of the negativity spreading further.

Examples of Bad Online Reputation Management  

Social media is a place for the smarts! Your customers are extremely vulnerable and are prone to get hurt even with the slightest amount of criticism. Some companies, in the past have goofed up when it came to handling customer criticism/feedback. Well, you might have an extremely creative and sarcastic giant sleeping inside you, ready to slash back every time a customer speaks badly about you. But, it is best you gulp your ego and be polite! Here are a few examples of how companies suffered great loses financially and reputation wise when it came to handling online conversations.

  1. 1. Nestle: When Nestle suffered the “Palm Oil” related crisis (related to use of palm oil that was picked from deforested areas), people started complaining in masses. This was also accompanied by creation of tarnished images of the Nestle logo and putting it up as the profile picture by many. Here’s how Nestle reacted to the same and fell trap to something unimaginable. In the end they had to shut down their social media channel! Sigh!

 

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2. Dark Horse Espresso: Being nice to your customers causes no harm! When a customer is complaining about an experience they have had, it is best to be kind to them and apologize. This leads to making the customer feel more comfortable and also important. About Dark Horse Espresso, when a customer complained about insufficient electric outlets in a rather busy coffee shop, this is what the company came back with. Dark Horse, you could have done better!

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3. British Airways: For a service that operates 24/7 and deals with strict time schedules, it is necessary that their customer support operates round the clock as well. How easily they tell a customer who has a midnight flight that they do not operate beyond a certain time limit and hence their problem can be solved only after! Top aggravate the anger, British Airways also responded with canned messages which left the customers bitterly angry. Here’s what happened:

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Examples of Good Online Reputation Management
1. Flipkart: They might have goofed up in the past or while running a large scale campaign, however over time this company has learned to play the game smartly. For a company that receives huge number of billing or logistics related issues on a daily basis, Flipkart is actually doing a commendable job. Prompt responses (within 5 to 10 mins), promising results, taking the conversation offline to avoid further damage and providing faster resolution this company does it all. What helps them respond faster is also their specified twitter handle for customer support, which not just helps segregating the messages for ease of response but also keeps the negativity away from their actual marketing page (the face of the company). Kudos to you Flipkart!

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2. Air Asia: Even an angry tweet can be addressed with good care and can be converted into a wonderful conversation! Air Asia goes out to prove that immediate responses which are polite and informative can actually solve the problem with ease. Unlike British Airways, Air Asia responds to each customer with individual attention and hence performs better!

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3. Amazon: Calm, confident and adding a personal touch always works. Amazon uses this innovative way of adding the name of the representative at the end of every tweet. This adds a friendly touch to the tweet and avoids the mundane canned form of tweeting.

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4. Paytm: Although Paytm is comparatively a new brand, they still boast an amazing social customer support domain. Along with providing fast responses, they also follow back to make sure the customer’s problem has actually been resolved or not.

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Few Things to Understand about Online Reputation Management

1. Apologize: If it is a mistake from the company’s end it is best to apologize for the same at the earliest. Generally when a brand makes a mistake, it is picked up at the speed of light and before you know the news has spread to cause enough damage to the brand. However it is recommended that to maintain honesty and transparency, the brand apologizes and if possible even cover up for the same by giving the customer some special offer/gift or the like.

For example, when a lady tweeted about her unhappy experience with US Airways, she was not just ignored in the beginning but was also humiliated by posting an inappropriate picture along with their apologetic tweet. This made the airways seem sarcastic and unapologetic and let to a huge uproar among its existing customers and prospects. However, better late than never, US airways cleared the air by apologizing for the same over a tweet and a spokesperson also came forward to explain how the whole process happened due to the mistake of an executive.

2. Hacking: Being careful about your account credentials is something that no company can ignore. This should be backed up by high security anti-virus software, unbreachable firewall for the database and more. Competitor brands are constantly fishing to spoil your reputation. Here’s an example: Burger King’s twitter account was hacked and their logo and handle name were changed to McDonalds. Burger King however, got lucky and gained 10,000 new followers! They sure owe the hacker a huge burger and some fries!

On a serious note such hacking can be dangerous as most come with the intention to tarnish the image of the brand. Burger King reduced the damage by identifying the problem fast and resolving the same.

3. Negative Publicity: It is often said that no form of publicity is bad publicity, however increasing the number of followers by doing something negative does not work all the time! Negative publicity is generally used by celebrities (who are a brand in themselves) mostly. For example: Miley Cyrus did a series of publicity stunt videos/photoshoots with inappropriate dressing and also made public appearances which was not appreciated by the masses. However, this worked in favor of her by increasing her publicity and making her more famous than she ever was.

This philosophy might not work the same way for brands (companies), considering people invest money and trust when they become the customer of a particular brand. In fact, it might reciprocate in an opposite manner and lead to huge losses for the brand.

4. Social Monitoring: Your audience is spread across various social media platforms and it is not enough to simply keep track of Facebook, Twitter and the other popular social platforms. To make sure that you have 360 degree monitoring in place it is necessary to keep track of various review sites, hate sites and on page reviewing(ecommerce sites). These are the places where people tend to rate your products and give detailed descriptions about their bad experiences. According to a research conducted by BrightLocal, 88% of consumers reading online reviews trust them as much as they trust personal recommendations.

The solution to reduce such reviews is formerly to provide impeccable service. Another solution to the same is reaching out to people who review your products negatively on these sites and trying to redirect the same to a personal conversation.

5. Response Time: Understanding which message requires attention and which doesn’t is an important phenomenon to decide which mention requires immediate attention and which does not. However, if a matter is serious and ignored it might lead to a crisis situation and also cause losses to the brand.

A classic example for this would be the Dominos video prank crisis where an employee posted the video of a fellow employee sticking cheese up his nose and putting it on a sandwich later, which was accompanied by text which briefly read that it would be served to someone in the next five minutes and they would be eating it. Although the seniors in the company were made aware about the same, they waited for the CEO to fly down after 24 hours and address the issue. A lot of damage was done to the brand both financially and reputation wise by then, which could have been easily saved by taking down the video and apologizing for the same.

Dealing with Illegal Attacks

1. Increasing SEO: Your company might have received a number of negative reviews and negative mentions on competitor brand supporter blogs/articles. This will lead to a bad first image, with number of negative mentions, when people google your brand name. To avoid this, it is necessary to increase your SEO on the positive elements. Making sure that all the positive articles appear on the first page along with your company’s landing page and the like is only possible with flawless content optimization.

2. Removing Negative Content: Differentiating between genuine complaints and spam content is extremely important to reduce negativity around your brand. Your competitors might have adopted the technique of putting down competition by spreading bad word about you. It is necessary to identify such content/reviews and removing them before they gets shared by your customers. It is however important to make sure that genuine reviews are not deleted in the process as it might backfire and lead to the rise of another negative tide against your brand.

3. Online Investigation: Some reputation management cases might get extremely difficult and might require intervention of technical experts in cyber investigation. Skilled online investigators and analysts can track people from more than just social media, i.e. through email investigation, data cross investigation and more. This allows reaching the root of any cyber infringement and eventually solving difficult reputation management cases, which might require legal intervention.

If your company is not already doing Online Reputation Management, it is high time you started. There are a number of tools in the market which enables easy ORM through a simplified platform which also gives you deeper understanding of your company’s online performance.
Do leave your comments about any doubts or additions you would like to make.