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Servicing Customers Socially

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.