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How Bots Can Manage Your Brand Reputation Online
Carah Campbell

Managing your company’s brand reputation in the digital age can be challenging. Customer expectations are high; it is easier than ever for them to contact brands and air their grievances. People expect automatic responses and near-instantaneous resolutions to their issues.

As for companies, a strong brand reputation takes years to build, but only moments to fracture. When issues do arise the news can spread like wildfire, thanks in part to social media.

It Is Nearly Impossible for Humans to Manage Blunders at Scale in the Digital Age

See United Airlines, for example: in April 2017 United Airlines was hit by a PR disaster when Dr. David Yao was dragged off of an overbooked flight; suffering two broken teeth, a concussion, and a broken nose in the process. When CEO Oscar Munoz made a statement he justified Dr. Yao being dragged off of the flight and only apologized for, “having to re-accommodate … customers“. Munoz later released a more empathetic statement when videos of the incident surfaced online, after over 36 hours of effectively blaming Dr. Yao for the ordeal and the resulting outrage of hundreds of thousands of people worldwide. Instead of comforting customers during that time, United turned to confrontation. What could have been done differently?

Rather than quickly acknowledging mistakes and working aggressively to limit the damage, United hid behind an ongoing internal and law enforcement investigation.

Scandals can result in profit loss and drops in share prices, meaning that companies cannot afford to be complacent.

United’s stock April 2017
United’s stock drops Tuesday, 11th of April. Times shown are Eastern Time.

Chatbots can resolve this issue by proactively and retroactively managing brand reputation online at scale, managing risk and working to keep your company in the black. How, you may ask?

Broadcast a Message to All of Your Bot Users

When bad things happen to good brands, customers are bound to hear about it. Social media newsfeeds are flooded and the media is alerted regarding everything from employee misconduct to product recalls like the Samsung Note 7 (the phone had a tendency of spontaneously catching fire and was banned from most airlines). Information is being bombarded at customers from multiple sources, and usually they do not hear the info from brands firsthand. This can lead to misinformation being distributed and confusion and anger from your customers.

This ensures that customers hear your story in a way that you want it to be told, which is important from a brand management perspective. However, it also helps clear up any misconceptions for blunders that have occurred. Your customers hear exactly what happened, directly from you. This means the rumour mill slows down sooner, or is not as productive from the get-go.

Benefit: manage customer expectations and proactively salvage brand reputation by customers hearing about the issue from you first

Isn’t it time for your business to speak to your customers directly, with no obstacles? If the answer is “yes”, contact us today to discuss your bot project.

Contact us

Broadcasted messages via chatbot are simple: you can send broadcast messages to anyone on your chatbot subscription list for free.

International broadcasts the news via their chatbot on Facebook Messenger
CNBC International broadcasts the news via their chatbot on Facebook Messenger

Ensure you only use this functionality when it is important and for the reason your users subscribed, otherwise you risk users unsubscribing from your bot. These messages can ease customer concerns and advise them of next steps; showing your company is transparent and working to resolve the issue at hand.

Pull Users from the Comment Section into Private, Personal Chat Windows

The comment section, the Twitter feed, and the Facebook wall all have one thing in common: they are easy ways for your customers to get into contact with you in a public format. This means it is easy for them to air their grievances when they arise. When tragedy strikes, people take to the comment section. How can you manage scores of unimpressed customers? Bots are the answer here too.

Chatbots have the ability to pull people from the comment section into private chat windows. This allows users to get help from the right people, or simply answers to their questions to settle their confusion. This also means getting irate people out of your comment section and away from the public eye and the press.

Benefit: managing upset customers at scale. You can’t put a price on that

Less angry people in the comment section; more helping your customers resolve their issues. You have the ability to address user concerns quickly by filtering them depending on keywords and intents. For example, a chatbot can tell the difference between, “my plane was delayed and I’m not making it home” and “my husband’s plane was delayed so he isn’t making it home tonight” through natural language processing. The bot can then pull the user out of the comment section and reply appropriately.

Not Being Able to Manage Customer Complaints at Scale Can Have Serious Implications for Brand Reputation

After the United Airlines passenger incident, scores of people all over the world, including many Chinese people, shared their disappointment with the airline, many demanding a boycott of United Airlines altogether. Chatbots could have been used to address concerns privately; which would have meant United saving face and money, as well as improved customer service and overall experience.

Jeff Malmad, managing director-head of mobile and Life+ at Mindshare North America:

Look at your current digital assets. If your brand is constantly communicating back and forth with the consumer, a bot may be a good option.

Your Customers Know That They Are Being Taken Care Of

When a customer submits a question via contact form or email they may not know if their query was received by the right person. Beyond that, many of these queries go unanswered altogether. With bots your customers don’t have to question whether or not their question or concern will be addressed; it is instantly addressed by your bot.

Benefit: even in the midst of a PR nightmare, your customers know they are being cared for

This helps maintain the point that your company makes customer service a priority and cares about its customers. This is important when you consider that 41% of companies ignore customer service emails and churn rate can increase by 15% if organizations fail to respond to customers on social media. Today a great deal of messages, emails, and comments go unanswered. Bots can help resolve that and decrease churn rate.

To receive feedback from your customers regarding their chatbot experience, your chatbot can distribute follow-up surveys after the bot interaction. This can be done automatically through the bot conversation window after a predetermined amount of time once the bot interaction has been completed. This can give you a firsthand account regarding the success of your bot experience and if there are any parts of the experience that need to be improved or changed. Testing and creating multiple iterations of bot experiences is key to creating a phenomenal chatbot.

Sometimes surveys can see low marks from unhappy customers. According to Harvard Business Review, training reps to respond to customers who have given low marks on surveys can increase resolution rates by 31%.

You can also have seamless human to bot integrations to ensure your customers receive the best experience possible. Conditions can be put in place, such as inserting a human agent into the conversation if your bot does not help answer your customer’s question within two freeform text interactions. This is important, especially when you have a new bot and your AI still has a bit of learning to do.

Conclusion

Brand reputation management can be a difficult task in the digital age. Thankfully chatbots help manage your brand reputation at scale by addressing customer concerns quickly and with a high degree of accuracy. This keeps your customers happy, your shareholders happy, and your stress levels relatively low.


Also published on Medium.

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