How to Build Your Online Reputation – #1 Listen

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If you or your company want to know what is being said about your products and/or services, listening is the first step to getting involved in the conversation about your company on the Internet and building your online reputation.

In this series of posts, I’ll be discussing how companies today can build their online reputation. But before then, let me share with you the benefits of engaging with and listening to your customers, especially if your company has huge brand awareness.

Recently, I wrote a review on some of MTN Nigeria’s latest products that were launched at the MTN Innovation Day. One of the products/services, Google SMS Search from MTN, generated a lot of negative commentary, because it was generally believed that it could be offered as a value-added service for choosing the MTN Network.

Following this, I forwarded the review to the MTN Customer Care email address to find out their reaction or to get a response, at least. Unfortunately, the customer care agents that emailed me back showed that they were less concerned about consumer responses to their products, as I’m sure any MTN employee reading this might just be.

Here was my email to MTN Nigeria customer care:

Hi there,

Just thought I should bring your attention to feedback from Nigerians
about your product –
MTN Google Free SMS Search. There are over 30
comments about the service.

You can find it here:

http://www.startupsnigeria.com/2009/04/mtn-nigeria-unveils-googles-free-sms-search/

Cheers,

Loy

Here was the response:

Dear Sir,
Thank you for contacting us at MTN Customer Care.
Kindly click on the reply button when replying our mails so as to enable us follow up on your issue.
If you are talking about how to get to the Google SMS through our website, please follow this link:
http://www.mtnonline.com/products/googlesms.aspx
Thank you for choosing MTN.
Regards,
Rayo

Dear Sir,

Thank you for contacting us at MTN Customer Care.

Kindly click on the reply button when replying our mails so as to enable us follow up on your issue.

If you are talking about how to get to the Google SMS through our website, please follow this link:

http://www.mtnonline.com/products/googlesms.aspx

Thank you for choosing MTN.

Regards,

Rayo

Evidently, the customer care response showed that MTN Nigeria probably doesn’t have a listening culture and/or a policy for getting involved in conversations surrounding their company, brand, products and personnel. Worse still, the customer care agent didn’t sound like he even read my email.

As a result, they risk their online brand reputation and even though they are have built a brand awareness and are the leading mobile telecommunications operator in Nigeria (in terms of subscribers), those negative responses show that they are not engaging with their customers and may lose them, if they don’t.

Since customers are simply not using the channels or are hardly getting the right answers to their requests in the channels that a company has chosen to communicate with them (usually via email or telephone), they (the company) should follow the chatter online in the channels that customers have chosen via blogs, online forums, and social media sites.

There are some great ways that you can listen to what your customers are saying on the Internet, using search tools and RSS feeds that can help you access information as quickly as possible and in one place, without visiting several websites, communities or blogs.

A great tool is the Google keywords search which allows a company to track what is being said about its staff, its products, its industry and its competitors or just about anything that is relevant to the company.

This may include tracking common misspellings of relevant words related to the company. Also, tracking the names of key people in a company can highlight and protect brand attacks.

However, to avoid monitoring or tracking too much, you can identify those keywords which may indicate that a comment or article has little or nothing to do with your company.

Another great tool is Google Alerts which allows you to filter your search keywords and deliver them as updates to the email address you have specified or via Google reader. Therefore, if MTN Nigeria were to use these tools to track their online reputation, they might consider some keywords like “MTN Nigeria”, “mtnonline.com”, “Ahmed Farouk”, MTN Caller Tunes, MTN SIM Backup, etc.

Listening to and engaging with existing and potential customers online is very critical to building your company’s web reputation. Granted, you may still be skeptical about adopting new tools for communication, but if you develop a policy and strategy, your company will become more successful with customer relationship management.

If you would like to learn how to develop the right social media policy and strategy for your company, kindly email me via editor [at] techloy.com



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