Managing your company’s online reputation

A friend of mine wrote about his experience flying with Air Canada to Vancouver from Asia in his blog.  In his post, he  tells the story about the poor customer treatment he received during an unanticipated two-day layover in Tokyo after attending a friend’s wedding in Phuket, Thailand.  The airline lost his luggage and surprisingly, offered no assistance to rebook his flight, find him a hotel or transportation, and told him he was on his own for all expenses.  mouse1

In his post, Mike compares and contrasts his personal experience with Air Canada to the excellent service WestJet provided stranded passengers in Vancouver during a snow storm this past Christmas.

This blog entry is a great example of how a customer with a broadband connection and a microphone called a blog can voice his or her dissatisfied voice online to large audiences. A blog can have the reach of the Wall Street Journal and can be extremely influential.

Today, smart companies like Southwest Airlines and Dell are investing in social media teams to tweet, monitor blogs, participate in Facebook groups and interact with customers in a meaningful way on the Web. They respond to comments in a timely manner and work to resolve online complaints. These companies “get it”. And they do it to show they care, manage their reputation and protect their brand.

This blog entry was an opportunity for Air Canada to get closer to him as a customer and improve their services. I surmise that his post appeared in Google Alerts under the search terms “Air Canada” several times. It has now been over a week since he posted his entry, and no one from the airline has contacted him. It is no wonder that Air Canada’s reputation continues to wane and WestJet’s success continues to grow!

This is a good example of what NOT to do. To begin with, Air Canada could have pre-empted Mike’s blog post altogether with a few responsive tactics at the airport counter:

  • Show empathy and understanding
  • Apologize for the inconvenience
  • Take responsibility for solving the problem (even if it wasn’t theirs to begin with)
  • Provide some applicable options to help minimize the situation
  • Follow-up to ensure the problem is reasonably resolved to his satisfaction

The company was given another chance to respond to Mike when he shared his ordeal in his blog, yet Air Canada did nothing. It is now a lost opportunity. On the bright side, my friend was able to publicly vent his frustrations and WestJet has gained a raving fan.

Is your company monitoring and managing its online reputation? A reputation take years to build and often only minutes or even mere seconds to destroy. Don’t overlook the internet as a vehicle to engage with customers, particularly when they broadcast negative feedback about your company. Their complaint is a gift!