Reputation Management in a Global Age

by brett

There’s no such thing as bad publicity, right? Well, that’s certainly the view of at least one online retailer.

DecorMyEyes.com (we’ll not link through for reasons you’ll soon discover…) has been hitting the digital headlines over the past few months for all the wrong reasons, and it seems to be helping business flourish.

Why? Well, all the negative reviews the company has generated for its diabolical customer service means that many people are linking through to its website…and if you’re even just a little bit clued-up on SEO, then you’ll know what a veritable bounty of in-bound links mean for a company’s search engine rankings.

Of course, anyone searching for the company by name will readily see the myriad of poor reviews and stay well clear. But anyone searching with generic terms such as ‘prescription sunglasses’, ‘ski goggles’ or a host of other discount eyewear-related search terms will bypass the reviews altogether.

So does this mean you should actively embrace all publicity as good publicity? In short, no. The online discount eyewear vendor certainly seems to be benefiting in the short-term, but ultimately as more and more people stumble upon the site via Google and encounter its notoriously bad customer service, its reputation will eventually catch up with it. There is no substitute for genuine, good quality customer service.

But alas, even the best companies can’t get things right all the time. And with social media and countless review websites permeating cyberspace, the need for businesses to manage their online reputation – and any negative customer experiences that will inevitably happen from time to time – is imperative.

Reputation Management on the Foreign Language Internet

An added layer of complexity is thrown into the mix when you consider the foreign language internet. The non-English language web is growing at a much faster rate than the English-language web, with the majority of the online population now speaking a language other than English as their native tongue.

So businesses may need to monitor what’s being said about them in the online community across a number of languages. With that in mind, how can you manage your online reputation across various global vernaculars? The good news is it’s not massively different to how you would manage it in English.

Assuming you have Google alerts set-up for your company name, this should pick up any discussion about your company – irrespective of which language is being used in the discussion.

In a similar vein, you should also be monitoring any mentions of your company name across the social sphere, capturing any @mentions of your company name to see what people are saying. Indeed, this will also capture any non-English language discussions too.

If you are concerned about your reputation in other languages, then it’s safe to assume that you’re probably doing business internationally. Or, at the very least, you’re doing business with non-English speakers in your domestic market.

If you are, then you’ll probably have some language resources available in-house, whether it’s full-time employees or an agent who represents your company in a specific country. If you encounter any discussion of your company on forums, social media platforms, review websites…anywhere, you can use your in-house resources to give you the gist and then you can gauge how to proceed.

If you don’t have any in-house resources for the language in question, then you can always use Google Translate, which is a lot better than many people give it credit for.

Whilst you shouldn’t use Google Translate to translate any business-critical communications, it’s fine to get the general gist of a message.

Moreover, if you’re not sure what language is being used in a discussion about you or your business, Google Translate has an automatic language-detection feature which will always identify the tongue in question and convert the text back into English for you.

The International Language of Customer Service

You should treat the foreign language internet in the same way as you would the English language web. Customers are customers, irrespective of their language and you have to engage with them – especially if you want to manage any adverse feedback.

Social media is proving to be a very powerful medium, providing an open platform for consumers to provide feedback and engage with retailers.

Online florists Arena Flowers is a good example of a company that engages with its customers. Whilst its main Twitter feed is used broadcast news and company information, it’s also used by its customers to check on orders and other issues, and the company communicates in an open fashion for the world to see. It also has a dedicated Facebook page to engage with its customers.

Crucially, the company also has a number of foreign-language websites. And its French language website is accompanied by a separate Facebook page for its French customers, helping ensure that customers have an open forum to communicate with the company should they experience any problems.

Most fair-minded people understand that no business is perfect. But it’s how a company manages a customer’s concerns that really matters, so brushing aside negative feedback or trying to delete bad reviews won’t look good in the long run.

Being open and transparent is key to reputation management, and if customers can see a history of a company actively engaging with other customers to resolve issues that end on a positive note, this will look a lot better. The same applies whether you’re trading in English, French, German, Spanish…any language.

About the author:

Christian Arno is founder of Lingo24 global translations service with clients in over sixty countries and 150 employees working across three continents. Lingo24 secured a turnover of $8m in 2010.

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