tag:www.econsultancy.com,2008:/topics/reputation-management Latest Reputation management content from Econsultancy 2017-02-23T14:22:11+00:00 tag:www.econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/68780 2017-02-23T14:22:11+00:00 2017-02-23T14:22:11+00:00 The growing politicization of brands in a polarized world Patricio Robles <p>Target, for instance, chose to weigh in on a 2016 North Carolina law that required individuals in government buildings to use the restroom that corresponds to the gender specified on their birth certificates. The law sparked debate around the country and in response, Target announced that its policy was to allow customers to use the bathroom of their choice based on which gender they identify with. "At the end of the day, Target is all about inclusion. We want everyone to feel comfortable in our stores," the company stated.</p> <p>Not surprisingly, Target's announcement was met with praise and criticism, and a firestorm ensued. Critics called for a boycott of Target, and boycott leaders claim to have collected nearly 1.5m signatures online. Since Target made itself a center of controversy, its sales have fallen by more than 7%, but while the company acknowledges that it's difficult to pinpoint the exact causes of the sales decline, it believes the decline isn't related to its bathroom policy. Boycott organizers, not surprisingly, disagree.</p> <p>In an apparent effort to appease everyone, Target has since announced that it plans to spend $20m building single-toilet bathrooms at more of its stores.</p> <h3>Brands do battle</h3> <p>Target isn't the only brand that has found itself in a politically-charged fight. A boycott of Breitbart, a conservative news site that has drawn criticism from the left, <a href="http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/nation-now/2016/12/01/brands-pull-ads-breitbart-nissan-stays-put/94732782/">has reportedly resulted in more than 800 advertisers agreeing to pull ads from the site</a>, which has been accused of publishing racist and hateful content, among other things. These include major brand advertisers like Audi, Charles Schwab, CVS, REI and Kellogg's. In response, Breitbart <a href="http://www.breitbart.com/dumpkelloggs/">launched a #DumpKelloggs boycott</a> of its own, which it claims has garnered over 400,000 signatures online.</p> <p>Battles like this seem to be increasingly common. Case in point: following President Trump's executive order temporarily halting immigration and travel from seven nations, Starbucks chairman and CEO Howard Schultz, who had made no secret of his disdain for Donald Trump and support for Trump opponent Hillary Clinton prior to the presidential election, announced that Starbucks would aim to hire 10,000 refugees over the next 10 years.</p> <p>In <a href="https://news.starbucks.com/news/living-our-values-in-uncertain-times">his announcement</a>, which was sent to Starbucks employees with the title, "Living Our Values in Uncertain Times," Schultz also commented on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and President Trump's plans to build a border wall with Mexico, two politically-charged topics.</p> <p>As one would expect, Starbucks' move drew praise from those who agree with Schultz's positions and criticism from those who disagree with him. Not surprisingly, the former rallied to state that they'll support Starbucks while the latter called for a boycott of the coffee chain.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"> <p lang="en" dir="ltr">Had a <a href="https://twitter.com/Starbucks">@Starbucks</a> latte this morning. If you support refugees, I support you. Thanks <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Starbucks?src=hash">#Starbucks</a></p> — Kat (@mockingjay617) <a href="https://twitter.com/mockingjay617/status/827167616808677379">February 2, 2017</a> </blockquote> <p>But Starbucks' move didn't just draw a response from consumers. In response to the firestorm, Black Rifle Coffee Company (BRCC), a "veteran owned, small batch, roast to order coffee company" based in Salt Lake City, Utah, announced that it would hire 10,000 veterans.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"> <p lang="en" dir="ltr">Our mission has never changed. Spread the word and join the coffee revolution. <a href="https://t.co/g7WMB6iZqG">pic.twitter.com/g7WMB6iZqG</a></p> — Black Rifle Coffee (@blckriflecoffee) <a href="https://twitter.com/blckriflecoffee/status/827338950788386816">February 3, 2017</a> </blockquote> <p>In <a href="http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/veteran-owned-black-rifle-coffee-company-stands-up-for-small-businesses-and-america-while-disgusted-by-starbucks-propaganda-300402198.html">a press release</a> and on Twitter, the company took aim at Starbucks, and the company has since seen its message go viral. While it's not clear that BRCC has the scale to follow through on its goal, the company's website currently states "Due to an increase in demand for Black Rifle Coffee customers will experience delays of two weeks in shipping timelines," so it would appear that the company's message has resonated with some consumers.</p> <p>What's more, BRCC's campaign appears to have attracted Starbucks' attention, as the world's largest coffee chain <a href="https://news.starbucks.com/news/message-from-starbucks-armed-forces-network">posted</a> "A Message to Customers from Starbucks Armed Forces Network" that aims to "set the record straight" about the company's support for veterans.</p> <h3>The problem with brand politics</h3> <p>As the Wall Street Journal <a href="https://www.wsj.com/articles/politics-and-business-dont-mix-in-trumps-america-1481305844">notes</a>, "until recently it wasn’t necessarily a bad thing for a company to wear its political leanings on its sleeve." For years, many companies have supported causes that are directly related to politics or have political overtones. But in today's highly-polarized environment, it's increasingly difficult for brands to make statements that are political, or could be construed as being political, without creating controversy.</p> <p>In reality, many of the most polarizing topics today, such as immigration, are highly complex and nuanced. It's simply not possible for brands to craft simple messages around them that aren't bound to offend large numbers of people who hold reasonable but opposing views. Given the amount of hyperbole and spin present in today's media landscape around these topics, brands are all but asking for controversy when they try to make simple statements about complex matters, no matter how well-intentioned they are in doing so.</p> <p>Some argue that the impact of such controversy is still minimal, if it exists at all. For every person who boycotts Starbucks, for instance, another person will support Starbucks. Or so the thinking goes. But as the Target case study demonstrates, it's hard to correlate political controversy, and the increasingly common boycotts that accompany it, with sales increases or declines. That means it's all but impossible for brands to quantify and analyze the risks, short-term and long-term, of their politically-charged statements and initiatives.</p> <p>Major brands that serve millions of consumers should recognize that their customers come from all walks of life and more often than not can't be easily segmented based on their beliefs around the most personal and political subjects. </p> <p>This doesn't mean that brands shouldn't <em>live their values</em> to quote Starbucks' Schultz, but brands should also consider that there's a huge difference between true values and political positions and consider how their statements, initiatives and decisions can unnecessarily conflate the two, dividing their customers and turning themselves into political props in the process.</p> <p>Perhaps it's time for brands to add humility to the list of values they prioritize, especially in light of the fact that <a href="http://www.mediapost.com/publications/article/294348/maybe-its-time-brands-just-deliver-on-their-promi.html">according to</a> a Havas Media Group study, consumers "wouldn't care" if nearly three-quarters of the brands they use "just disappeared."</p> tag:www.econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/68814 2017-02-16T11:15:00+00:00 2017-02-16T11:15:00+00:00 How utilities brands use social media for reputation management Nikki Gilliland <p>Before we go any further, what exactly is <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/65523-what-is-online-reputation-management-and-should-you-use-it/" target="_blank">online reputation management</a>? Well, though it largely comes under the umbrella of social media monitoring, this practice can also involve dealing with online reviews, producing content and general <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/66439-three-ways-community-management-drives-loyalty-for-charities/" target="_blank">community management</a>.</p> <p>In this article, I will specifically be focusing on how utility companies use social media channels for reputation management.</p> <h3>Basic principles</h3> <p>Online reputation management on social media refers to <em>how</em> brands respond to customer conversation.</p> <p>For example, if people are complaining or even praising a service, but the brand remains entirely unresponsive – this can have a detrimental effect on its overall reputation. </p> <p>Here are a few basic rules for effective management:</p> <ul> <li>Monitor mentions</li> <li>Respond quickly</li> <li>Be transparent</li> <li>Prepare for a crisis</li> <li>Address criticism</li> </ul> <p>Let’s look at a few examples of utility brands putting the above into practice.</p> <h3>Hawaiian Electric</h3> <p>Not many electricity suppliers have an Instagram account, let alone use it to effectively communicate with customers, but Hawaiian Electric is different.</p> <p>When a storm hit shores in 2014, it utilised the channel to let customers know about areas of power outage and repairs, as well as reinforce messages about safety. It has since continued to do this, expanding its strategy to incorporate general posts relating to the local community. </p> <p>By using a visual medium like Instagram, the brand is able to project a positive image and reassure customers in the process. </p> <p>After all, while it might be useful to hear that a company is repairing a broken electricity pole, seeing a photo of it in action is far more powerful.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/3927/Hawaiin_Electric.JPG" alt="" width="760" height="489"></p> <h3>SSE</h3> <p>Figures from Citizens Advice revealed that SSE received the lowest number of customer service complaints last year, making it the top energy company overall for customer satisfaction.</p> <p>A big contributing factor appears to be the way it handles queries and criticism on social media, with a fast response time and polite tone of voice across the board.</p> <p>This is particularly evident on the brand’s Facebook page, where it ‘typically replies within an hour’. And although complaints are still common, the brand’s approach appears to be effective for calming angry customers. </p> <p>With <a href="http://blogs.forrester.com/kate_leggett/15-03-03-consumer_expectations_for_customer_service_dont_match_what_companies_deliver" target="_blank">77% saying</a> that valuing the customer's time is the most important thing a company can do – a fast response is one of the most effective ways for brands to ensure that they can maintain and improve a positive reputation.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/3928/SSE_energy.JPG" alt="" width="780" height="469"></p> <h3>PSEG</h3> <p>PSEG – a gas and electric company based in New Jersey – shows that social media can be used for brand reputation management in alternative ways.</p> <p>In 2014, it started planning for an infrastructure upgrade to replace 250 miles of gas line - a project that would result in a lot of upheaval for local residents.</p> <p>Instead of an announcement on its website, PSEG chose to use micro-targeted Facebook ads in order to let people know what was going to happen and how it would affect them.</p> <p>When users clicked on an ad, they were taken to a specific page where they’d be able to select and view a work schedule and relating disruption.</p> <p>By utilising social media in this way, not only did PSEG demonstrate transparency, but it also pre-empted its customers' needs.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/3929/PSEG.JPG" alt="" width="540" height="716"></p> <h3>Ovo</h3> <p>Brand Q&amp;A’s on Twitter are always risky. A few years ago, British Gas suffered a huge backlash from angry customers over price hikes, leaving the social media team with egg on its face and even more of a negative reputation than before.</p> <p>On the other hand, this type of activity can work well for smaller brands. Ovo is one brand that has utilised an ‘always on’ strategy to monitor brand mentions and successfully draw in new customers, often using Q&amp;As to highlight the shortcomings of competitors. </p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"> <p lang="en" dir="ltr">We came here to have breakfast and help our customers. And we've just finished our toast. <a href="https://t.co/Bcr3QYnRGP">pic.twitter.com/Bcr3QYnRGP</a></p> — OVO Energy (@OVOEnergy) <a href="https://twitter.com/OVOEnergy/status/828513583000592387">February 6, 2017</a> </blockquote> <p>Despite its overall approach to social media being far more appealing than most utility companies – using a conversational and personal tone – Ovo has not had an entirely positive couple of years.</p> <p>Having failed to compensate customers for missed or late appointments, the company recently agreed to pay £58,000 to charity instead of undertaking formal enforcement action.</p> <p>While the experience has undoubtedly tarnished its reputation, Ovo’s charitable donation and intent to improve customer service is part and parcel of online reputation management in action.</p> <p><strong><em>Related articles:</em></strong></p> <ul> <li><em><a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68789-how-smart-switching-energy-apps-are-tapping-into-customer-need/" target="_blank">How smart-switching energy apps are tapping into customer need</a></em></li> <li><a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/65478-how-20-top-uk-retailers-handle-social-customer-service/"><em>How 20 top UK retailers handle social customer service</em></a></li> </ul> tag:www.econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/68518 2016-11-11T14:54:58+00:00 2016-11-11T14:54:58+00:00 Following Donald Trump's election, the war against algorithms has begun Patricio Robles <p><a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/66613-new-amazon-algorithm-to-shake-up-product-reviews/">On Amazon</a>, an algorithm determines which product reviews should be highlighted. <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67515-twitter-unveils-new-timeline-feature-what-you-need-to-know/">On Twitter</a>, an algorithm determines which tweets should appear at the top of each user's timeline. <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67656-instagram-is-shaking-up-its-feed-with-an-algorithm-what-brands-need-to-know/">On Instagram</a>, an algorithm determines in what order posts should be displayed.</p> <p>In short, it's almost impossible to find a popular digital service that doesn't in some way employ algorithms to deliver content to users.</p> <p>For marketers, the <em>algorithimization</em> of the web has been a fact of life for years.</p> <p>While <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/66378-facebook-s-algorithm-update-what-it-means-for-marketers/">changes</a> to algorithms have been the source of angst and frequently complaint, marketers have been forced to accept the fact that their success or failure on the web will in large part be determined by algorithms they don't control and their ability to understand them and make the most of them.</p> <p>Some marketers, of course, have fought against the way algorithms are used. For example, numerous companies have accused Google of tweaking its algorithm to favor its own properties, and such claims have frequently been cited in discussions about whether regulators should pursue <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/66277-google-could-face-eu-antitrust-charges-imminently-report/">anti-trust charges</a> against the search giant.</p> <p>But by and large, Google has escaped a Microsoft-like crackdown, perhaps in part because marketers themselves are an unfavorable lot to regulators and the public.</p> <p>Now, however, a real war against algorithms appears to be underway.</p> <p>Recently, German Chancellor Angela Merkel voiced the concern that "algorithms, when they are not transparent, can lead to a distortion of our perception, they can shrink our expanse of information." She <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/oct/27/angela-merkel-internet-search-engines-are-distorting-our-perception">explained</a>...</p> <blockquote> <p>I'm of the opinion that algorithms must be made more transparent, so that one can inform oneself as an interested citizen about questions like ‘what influences my behaviour on the internet and that of others?'</p> </blockquote> <p>Her concerns are being echoed by others following Donald Trump's stunning upset victory over Hillary Clinton in the 2016 US presidential race.</p> <p>Now, many are accusing Facebook's algorithm of helping Donald Trump win the election he wasn't expected to win by allowing misinformation to be widely spread across its network.</p> <p>Writing for New York Magazine, Max Read <a href="http://nymag.com/selectall/2016/11/donald-trump-won-because-of-facebook.html">went so far as to claim</a> that "Donald Trump won because of Facebook."</p> <p>He argues: "The most obvious way in which Facebook enabled a Trump victory has been its inability (or refusal) to address the problem of hoax or fake news.</p> <p>"Fake news is not a problem unique to Facebook, but Facebook’s enormous audience, and the mechanisms of distribution on which the site relies — i.e., the emotionally charged activity of sharing, and the show-me-more-like-this feedback loop of the news feed algorithm — makes it the only site to support a genuinely lucrative market in which shady publishers arbitrage traffic by enticing people off of Facebook and onto ad-festooned websites, using stories that are alternately made up, incorrect, exaggerated beyond all relationship to truth, or all three.</p> <p>"All throughout the election, these fake stories, sometimes papered over with flimsy “parody site” disclosures somewhere in small type, circulated throughout Facebook: The Pope endorses Trump. Hillary Clinton bought $137m in illegal arms. The Clintons bought a $200m house in the Maldives.</p> <p>"Many got hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of shares, likes, and comments; enough people clicked through to the posts to generate significant profits for their creators.</p> <p>"The valiant efforts of Snopes and other debunking organizations were insufficient; Facebook’s labyrinthine sharing and privacy settings mean that fact-checks get lost in the shuffle.</p> <p>"Often, no one would even need to click on and read the story for the headline itself to become a widely distributed talking point, repeated elsewhere online, or, sometimes, in real life."</p> <p>While Trump himself claimed throughout his campaign that the media was treating him unfairly, a claim that seems to have resonated with his supporters, many others are, like Reed, largely <a href="http://www.niemanlab.org/2016/11/the-forces-that-drove-this-elections-media-failure-are-likely-to-get-worse/">attributing</a> Clinton's loss to internet-spread misinformation instead of, say, <a href="http://adage.com/article/campaign-trail/hillary-clinton-wrong/306676/">her messaging</a>.</p> <h3>Algorithms aren't perfect, but people aren't either</h3> <p>Not surprisingly, those who appear to be unhappy with the results of the US presidential election seem to be leading the criticism of Facebook and the algorithms that help determine what content is displayed to users.</p> <p>But that doesn't mean they don't have a point. They do.</p> <p>There is a real debate to be had about the power Google, Facebook and others wield through their algorithms because the potential for abuse and harmful effects is real.</p> <p>For example, in 2012, Facebook conducted a psychological study by tweaking the number of positive and negative News Feed posts displayed to a random selection of over half a million of its users.</p> <p>It did not alert them to the fact that they were part of a study or obtain their permission. For obvious reasons, the study, which found that emotions could be spread through social networks, <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/30/technology/facebook-tinkers-with-users-emotions-in-news-feed-experiment-stirring-outcry.html?_r=0">was widely criticized</a>.</p> <p>But, psychological studies that push ethical boundaries aside, it's not clear that there's an easy way to address concerns that algorithms are directing people to potentially bad information.</p> <p>Some suggest that Facebook and others need to involve humans.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"> <p lang="en" dir="ltr">Facebook needs a public editor. About three years ago. <a href="https://t.co/TVLGEnn9Gr">https://t.co/TVLGEnn9Gr</a></p> — Vacation Alex (@alex) <a href="https://twitter.com/alex/status/796815389917184000">November 10, 2016</a> </blockquote> <p>But humans aren't perfect. If companies like Facebook start relying on human editors to vet the content that circulates on their services, they will arguably cease to be technology platforms and instead come to function as media organizations.</p> <p>That would open many new cans of worms as humans are themselves vulnerable to bias and manipulation.</p> <p>For example, during the election cycle, Facebook found itself under scrutiny when former Facebook staffers <a href="http://gizmodo.com/former-facebook-workers-we-routinely-suppressed-conser-1775461006">claimed</a> the world's largest social network routinely suppressed conservative news from its "trending" news section.</p> <p>The accusation that the one of the world's most influential companies was engaging in censorship to favor liberal news sources led CEO Mark Zuckerberg to meet with conservative leaders. The company subsequently decided to rely more heavily on algorithms instead of an editorial team.</p> <p>Perhaps the most balanced solution to the challenges algorithms present would be to increase transparency as Germany's Merkel has suggested.</p> <p>But this too isn't likely to have the intended effect. If companies like Google and Facebook provided the intricate details about how their algorithms function, the knowledge would almost certainly be used by those seeking to manipulate them for personal gain.</p> <p>In addition, the average person probably isn't going to have the interest or technical knowledge required to understand the mechanics of these algorithms even if this information was accessible to them.</p> <p>Finally, bad information isn't going away. Human editorial controls – and censorship – might be able to reduce the spread of information deemed inaccurate or harmful, but misinformation and its ill effects existed well before the internet came along.</p> <h3>An inconvenient truth</h3> <p>Founding father Thomas Jefferson wrote, "A properly functioning democracy depends on an informed electorate."</p> <p>With over half of adults in the US getting news through social media today <a href="http://www.journalism.org/2016/05/26/news-use-across-social-media-platforms-2016/">according to Pew</a>, there is no doubt that social media plays an increasingly important role in how the electorate is informed.</p> <p>But Jefferson also wrote of the importance of education and critical thinking:</p> <blockquote> <p>An enlightened citizenry is indispensable for the proper functioning of a republic. Self-government is not possible unless the citizens are educated sufficiently to enable them to exercise oversight.</p> </blockquote> <p>The 2016 US presidential election, following the UK's Brexit vote, has turned algorithms into something of a scapegoat.</p> <p>And while we should discuss and debate the role they play in all aspects of our society, from how marketing messages are delivered to consumers to how news is disseminated to citizens, we should also be very careful that we don't blame algorithms for our own shortcomings.</p> <p>If we do, it will sadly pave the way for an Orwellian web that is less free and more subject to the abuses of concentrated power.</p> tag:www.econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/68407 2016-10-14T16:21:27+01:00 2016-10-14T16:21:27+01:00 The five things every company can learn from the Wells Fargo scandal Patricio Robles <h3>Sales goals aren't bad, but...</h3> <p>In the wake of its scandal, Wells Fargo has vowed to end retail banking product sales goals.</p> <p>"We are eliminating product sales goals because we want to make certain our customers have full confidence that our retail bankers are always focused on the best interests of customers," Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf said in a statement.</p> <p>But sales goals aren't inherently bad, and Stumpf's statement seems to take the misguided view that sales goals are in conflict with the interests of customers.</p> <p>That isn't the case.</p> <p>What is bad are<strong> sales goals that are unrealistic and that employees don't believe they can meet.</strong></p> <p>The fact that over 5,000 Wells Fargo employees were fired for being involved in the creation of more than 2m fraudulent accounts strongly suggests that Wells Fargo's sales goals were either not tied to reality or that the employees asked to hit them didn't feel they had the support and resources needed to do so.</p> <p>Indeed, one former Wells Fargo employee <a href="https://consumerist.com/2016/09/19/4-things-former-wells-fargo-workers-revealed-about-pressure-to-meet-sales-goals/">said</a> that she was told to increase sales 35% each year, a nearly impossible task given that she was in a small town with a finite customer base.</p> <h3>You need good products to cross-sell successfully</h3> <p>In response to the crisis it faces, Wells Fargo has also instructed employees to stop cross-selling.</p> <p>A memo sent to some Wells Fargo call center employees <a href="http://www.wsj.com/articles/wells-fargo-curbs-product-cross-selling-1473715298">stated</a> "please suspend referrals of products or services unless requested by customers until further notice."</p> <p>While that move may be advisable for Wells Fargo given the current situation, here too it's unwise to draw the broader conclusion that cross-selling is bad.</p> <p>It isn't. </p> <p>The reason it was so problematic for Wells Fargo is that the bank was cross-selling products consumers in many cases didn't want, or wouldn't want if they knew what they were buying.</p> <p>For example, one of the products that employees reportedly pushed hard to customers was overdraft protection, a "potentially costly" offering "they didn’t always need or realize they were getting."</p> <p>Effective cross-selling involves the promotion of quality products that customers might want or need based on their profile or purchase history.</p> <p>It does not involve deception or the pushing of products for the purpose of maximizing revenue without maximizing customer value. </p> <h3>Commoditisation sucks, especially when you don't deal with it</h3> <p>Wells Fargo's apparently unrealistic sales goals and aggressive cross-selling belied a harsh but simple truth: Retail and business banking are increasingly commoditised. </p> <p>Commoditisation is challenging in any industry, but it doesn't have to be a death knell.</p> <p>Wells Fargo could have recognised the nature of the market it is in and implemented <a href="http://www.strategyand.pwc.com/perspectives/2015-retailbanking-trends">customer-focused strategies</a>, but instead, the giant bank appears to have assumed that its existing customer base was an easily exploitable asset that it could take advantage of without consequence.</p> <p>That was a huge mistake.</p> <h3>Fear and pressure are not viable employee incentives</h3> <p>According to Khalid Taha, who worked as a personal banker for Wells Fargo in San Diego for three years, "I had to meet quotas every day, if I didn't then I could be written up and fired."</p> <p>His story mirrors that of other former employees <a href="http://money.cnn.com/2016/09/09/investing/wells-fargo-phony-accounts-culture/">who are speaking out</a>.</p> <p>Many of the rank-and-file workers who were involved in signing customers up for phony accounts didn't have nearly as much to gain monetarily as Wells Fargo executives, one of whom retired with a $125m payday. </p> <p>Instead, the picture that has emerged is one in which most employees who were engaged in the phony accounts scheme were doing so primarily because they felt fear and pressure, which should never be used to motivate employees who are responsible for selling.</p> <h3>A reputation can be destroyed in an instant</h3> <p>Wells Fargo has long been considered one of the most conservative of the large US banks, and emerged from the financial crisis of 2008 with far less reputational damage than most of its peers.</p> <p>But now, Wells Fargo has been turned into the latest poster child for everything that is wrong with the banking industry, proving what billionaire investor Warren Buffett once observed...</p> <blockquote> <p>It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. </p> </blockquote> <p>Ironically, Buffett's firm, Berkshire Hathaway, owns 10% of Wells Fargo, making it the bank's largest shareholder and the <a href="http://www.vanityfair.com/news/2016/09/warren-buffett-wells-fargo">biggest loser</a> in the decline of Wells Fargo's stock.</p> <p>Buffett once stated, "Lose money for the firm and I will be understanding. Lose a shred of reputation for the firm, and I will be ruthless."</p> <p>Buffett hasn't yet spoken publicly about the Wells Fargo scandal, but if the octogenarian investor lives by his past words, Wells Fargo's reputational woes could quickly become even more costly.</p> tag:www.econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/68241 2016-09-16T11:15:00+01:00 2016-09-16T11:15:00+01:00 The anatomy of a good response to a negative online review Patricio Robles <p>Here are the components of an effective response to a negative online review...</p> <h3>An apology</h3> <p>The customer isn't always right, but even in cases where a customer isn't owed an unconditional apology, it's usually not unreasonable to apologize for the fact that they were unsatisfied with their experience.</p> <p>Of course, if there <em>was</em> a legitimate faux pas, it's best to say "sorry" than to pretend that nothing happened.</p> <p>Apologies can go a long way, both in appeasing the customer and making it clear to potential customers that your business isn't above conceding that a mistake was made or that something could have been done better.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/8606/yelp1.png" alt="" width="390" height="336"></p> <h3>An explanation</h3> <p>Where appropriate, there is value in providing unhappy customers with an explanation for their subpar experience.</p> <p>Many times, complaints are the result of a misunderstanding or miscommunication, so clarification can be helpful not only to the customer making a complaint but to other potential customers who might have misunderstandings about your products or services.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/8608/yelp3.png" alt="" width="390" height="224"></p> <h3>Just enough detail</h3> <p>When responding to a negative review, it's important to respond with some level of specificity so that the customer and others reading the response know that you understood the complaint and didn't simply write it off.</p> <p>At the same time, there's usually little to be gained by writing an excruciatingly long response that rehashes every detail of the situation as you saw it, or worse, that disputes every point of a customer's complaint.</p> <h3>A professional, non-argumentative tone</h3> <p>Even the most scathing and over-the-top negative reviews should be responded to in a level-headed fashion.</p> <p>Unprofessional, argumentative responses rarely serve a purpose and can often have the unintended effect of making an unhappy customer's criticisms look more legitimate than they might otherwise appear to be.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/8609/yelp4.png" alt="" width="549" height="145"></p> <h3>An offer to make things right</h3> <p>Legitimate complaints should never go unrectified if you can help it.</p> <p>Obviously, it takes two to tango and not everybody will be amenable, but nothing is lost by extending an olive branch to an unhappy customer and offering to make things better, even if it's just a heartfelt "we hope you'll give us a second chance."</p> <h3>An invitation to discuss the complaint privately</h3> <p>Finally, in some cases, it may be appropriate to invite a customer to discuss a complaint privately.</p> <p>A private discussion is especially warranted when additional details are needed to determine what happened or a complaint is sensitive (eg. it relates to the conduct of a specific employee).</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/8607/yelp2.png" alt="" width="389" height="138"></p> <p><em>Further reading:</em></p> <ul> <li> <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/64450-the-pitfalls-of-online-reviews/">The pitfalls of online reviews</a> </li> <li> <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/9366-ecommerce-consumer-reviews-why-you-need-them-and-how-to-use-them/">Ecommerce consumer reviews: why you need them and how to use them</a> </li> </ul> tag:www.econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/68239 2016-09-05T14:47:57+01:00 2016-09-05T14:47:57+01:00 For IoT medical device firms, security issues are no longer just bad PR Patricio Robles <p>For obvious reasons, <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68048-personal-data-and-privacy-in-the-digital-healthcare-age">privacy</a> and security concerns are of paramount importance when it comes to connected medical devices, and one medical device manufacturer, St. Jude Medical, is learning that potential problems with connected devices can be more than just a PR headache.</p> <p>On Thursday, investment firm Muddy Waters Capital <a href="http://www.muddywatersresearch.com/research/stj/mw-is-short-stj/">published</a> a research report claiming that a security flaw in St. Jude's Merlin@home device contained a security vulnerability that could potentially leave individuals with those implanted devices at risk to remote cyber attackers.</p> <p>In the report, Muddy Waters' Carson Block suggested that patients using potentially vulnerable devices should disable connectivity for their implanted devices and that St. Jude should issue a recall.</p> <p>Since nearly half of St. Jude's revenue comes from the allegedly affected devices, Block argued in his report that St. Jude could see its revenue plummet over the next two years, the length of time he believes it would take for the company to fix the problem and handle a recall.<br></p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/8787/st_jude_medical.png" alt="" width="700" height="309"></p> <p>Not surprisingly, shares of St. Jude stock dropped, and trading in them was temporarily halted.</p> <p>The company's share price recovered after it issued a statement disputing Muddy Waters' claims, calling them "false and misleading," but the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) <a href="http://www.startribune.com/st-jude-medical-sharply-criticizes-short-seller-s-attack-on-its-cybersecurity/391437581/">confirmed Friday</a> that it will be looking into the matter with the Department of Homeland Security.</p> <h3>More than just a PR problem</h3> <p>One of Muddy Waters' claims, that St. Jude's implanted pacemakers could have their batteries drained by a remote attacker 50 feet away, is for obvious reasons concerning.</p> <p>St. Jude says that such claims are meritless, noting that its implanted devices only have a wireless range of seven feet after they are implanted. </p> <p>University of Michigan researchers who have tried to exploit the vulnerabilities claimed by Muddy Waters <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/us-st-jude-medical-cyber-university-idUSKCN1152I0">said</a> the "evidence does not support [Muddy Waters'] conclusions."</p> <p>But Muddy Waters counters that in the name of responsible disclosure, it did not release all of the details of the vulnerabilities.</p> <p><em>Two of St. Jude's pacemaker products</em></p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/8788/St_Jude_products.png" alt="" width="752" height="449"></p> <p>Needless to say, it's far too early to make a judgment here and, ultimately, the FDA's investigation will establish whether the claims leveled by Muddy Waters are legitimate.</p> <p>If they are, they could threaten the pending $25bn acquisition of St. Jude by Abbott Laboratories, so the stakes are high.</p> <p>Whatever the final outcome, the situation is a wake-up call to companies manufacturing connected medical devices.</p> <p>That's because, as <a href="http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-08-25/in-an-unorthodox-move-hacking-firm-teams-up-with-short-sellers">detailed by</a> Bloomberg's Jordan Robertson and Michael Riley, the Muddy Waters vs. St. Jude battle "reveals a new front in hacking for profit."</p> <p>Muddy Waters didn't identify potential vulnerabilities in St. Jude's devices.</p> <p>They were discovered by MedSec, a cybersecurity startup, which approached the investment firm and proposed a partnership in which MedSec would give its evidence to Muddy Waters and share in the profits if Muddy Waters was able to drive St. Jude's share price down.</p> <p>As Robertson and Riley note, "bringing this kind of information to an investment firm is highly unorthodox."</p> <p>Typically, security researchers make money by bringing vulnerabilities to the attention of the companies responsible for them in exchange for monetary compensation and/or public recognition.</p> <p>Alternatively, unscrupulous researchers sell the vulnerabilities they find on the black market.</p> <p>MedSec's CEO, Justine Bone, said that:</p> <blockquote> <p>As far as we can tell, St. Jude Medical has done absolutely nothing to even meet minimum cybersecurity standards, in comparison to the other manufacturers we looked at that have made efforts.</p> </blockquote> <p>So she decided not to bring the issue to St. Jude's attention.</p> <blockquote> <p>We were worried that they would sweep this under the rug or we would find ourselves in some sort of a hush litigation situation where patients were unaware of the risks they were facing.</p> <p>We partnered with Muddy Waters because they have a great history of holding large corporations accountable.</p> </blockquote> <p>While MedSec's decision is sparking debate over the ethics of security researchers, the message to companies that are involved with connected devices involving health and medicine is clear: Privacy and security must be top of mind as they have the potential to cause real wounds, not just PR scrapes.</p> <p>Interests with sophisticated tools, big bank accounts and media megaphones are increasingly going to be looking for problems, and when they think they find them, they're going to look to inflict damage, even if it's in the name of accountability.</p> tag:www.econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/68248 2016-09-02T14:00:00+01:00 2016-09-02T14:00:00+01:00 Facing scrutiny, pharma marketers turn to unbranded ads Patricio Robles <p>As STAT's Rebecca Robbins <a href="https://www.statnews.com/2016/08/29/epipen-unbranded-ads/">explained</a>, unbranded ads are "a stealthy and lightly regulated form of drug marketing focused on educating the public about a health condition — which the pharma company just happens to sell a product to treat."</p> <p>Last month, Merck spent an estimated $9.9m on ads to drive awareness for HPV and shingles, while Mylan spent an estimated $8.5m on ads to boost awareness of severe allergic reactions.</p> <p>Merck manufactures HPV and shingles vaccines, while Mylan is the company behind the EpiPen, which is an Epinephrine auto-injector used to treat severe allergic reactions.</p> <p>While the dollars behind unbranded ads still make up a very small fraction of the $6bn-plus pharma companies spend on ads every year, according to Nielsen, spend on unbranded ads is up 15% so far this year.</p> <p>And the fact that two of the top ten most expensive pharma ad campaigns last month were unbranded suggests that the trend has momentum.</p> <p>Interestingly, Mylan's unbranded ad campaign came just before the company found itself the target of <a href="http://www.post-gazette.com/business/healthcare-business/2016/08/30/EpiPen-furor-brings/stories/201608300158">public outrage over EpiPen price hikes</a>.</p> <h3>A potentially sensible strategy that could backfire</h3> <p>Critics of unbranded campaigns worry that these ads will mislead consumers, who in most cases won't be able to identify the company with a vested financial interest that is behind them.</p> <p>Additionally, because unbranded ads don't promote a specific drug or treatment, they don't mention risks and side effects, which can be considerable and are often the butt of jokes about pharmaceutical ads.</p> <p>But a less cynical argument is that unbranded ads offer a healthy compromise.</p> <p>Instead of encouraging consumers to talk to their doctors about a specific drug, they call attention to a condition and invite consumers to talk to their physicians about the condition.</p> <p>Yes, the pharma companies behind these unbranded ads often own the market for a condition's treatment, but nonetheless, these ads are arguably more educational than promotional compared to branded counterparts.</p> <p>Unfortunately, just as they <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67747-pharma-marketers-should-use-storytelling-to-improve-the-industry-s-reputation">fail to tell stories as effectively as they should</a>, pharma marketers' unbranded ads also tend to fall short by focusing too much on fear.</p> <p>As STAT's Robbins notes...</p> <blockquote> <p>If you watch enough unbranded drug ads, you’ll notice a theme: they’re often pretty ominous in tone.</p> </blockquote> <p>Robbins points to a Mylan ad in which "a young woman is shown with alarming red splotches all over her skin after accidentally ingesting peanuts. She gasps and collapses as her panicked friends try to help."</p> <p>She also calls attention to a heart failure awareness ad created by Novartis, which promoted dire statistics and drew the scorn of cardiologists.</p> <p><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/JNRFJEdi_-E?wmode=transparent" width="560" height="315"></iframe></p> <p>Some people suggest that the tone of these ads is justified for serious conditions.</p> <p>But it's entirely possible that a rise in ominous unbranded ads will only offer industry critics and regulators more ammunition to crack down on the ways pharma companies communicate with consumers.</p> tag:www.econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/68238 2016-09-01T14:27:00+01:00 2016-09-01T14:27:00+01:00 GSK launches digital campaign to drive meningitis vaccinations Patricio Robles <p>The campaign, dubbed <em>Take 5 for Meningitis</em>, aims to educate young adults and their parents about meningitis B, a potentially deadly bacterial infection for which GSK offers a vaccine.</p> <p>As <a href="http://www.fiercepharma.com/marketing/gsk-urges-teens-to-take-5-for-menb-new-awareness-push">detailed by</a> FiercePharma's Carly Helfand, GSK and competitor Pfizer have had Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for meningitis B vaccines since 2015 and 2014, but "sales haven’t taken off the way the companies had hoped they would."</p> <p>The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has yet to grant either vaccine a "universal use" recommendation, so right now it's up to doctors and patients to make a decision about vaccination.</p> <p>While Helfand says Pfizer is promoting its vaccine through a television campaign, GSK's <em>Take 5</em> campaign incorporates content marketing through <a href="http://www.helppreventdisease.com/adult_vaccines/meningococcal-meningitis/index.html?cc=04bf0fd640e9">meningitis.com</a>, social channels and offline events featuring Jamie Schanbaum and Nick Springer, US Paralympians who survived meningitis.</p> <p>Given the digital-heavy nature of the campaign and its target audience, it's not surprising that it was launched at the annual BlogHer social media conference in Los Angeles. </p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/resized/0007/8509/menb-blog-flyer.png" alt="" width="470" height="246"></p> <h3>Storytelling in action</h3> <p>The bad news for companies like GSK is that the industry's reputation is not good, and the hits just keep on coming.</p> <p>Case in point: Mylan, the company that makes the EpiPen used to treat severe, life-threatening allergic reactions, has reinvigorated the debate over drug pricing after hiking EpiPen pricing significantly.</p> <p>The American Medical Association (AMA) <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67227-ban-on-consumer-ads-could-make-pharma-s-digital-shortcomings-more-costly">has called for a ban on direct-to-consumer ads</a> that pitch prescription drugs and medical devices, and the Mylan headlines only bolster arguments that greater regulation is needed.</p> <p>While the drug pricing issue is a complicated one, it has served as an opportunity for pharma marketers to reflect on their relationship with consumers.</p> <p>Instead of running "dumb ads," pharma marketers have a real opportunity <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67747-pharma-marketers-should-use-storytelling-to-improve-the-industry-s-reputation">to tell compelling, emotional stories</a> that are of benefit not only to pharma companies' reputations, but the consumers who receive them as well.</p> <p>At its heart, GSK's efforts to boost meningitis B vaccinations rely heavily on the power of storytelling. </p> <p>"Meningitis changed my entire life when I was just a kid. I lost most of my legs and arms and later learned that there was a vaccine that might have protected me against the disease," Nick Springer stated in a press release.</p> <p>"No one should have to go through what I’ve gone through and that’s why I’m working with GSK to tell my story."</p> <p>It's not the only example of GSK's growing use of multi-channel storytelling.</p> <p>The company, which markets the Excedrin Migraine medication, recently <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68024-gsk-migraine-simulator-demonstrates-ar-vr-potential-for-healthcare-marketing">developed a campaign that took advantage of augmented reality</a> and generated millions of video views and hundreds of thousands of social engagements.</p> <p>The campaign took home three awards at the Cannes Lions Health show.</p> <p><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/SmJW8gYIN4E?wmode=transparent" width="560" height="315"></iframe></p> <p>The good news for companies like GSK, particularly as it relates to the <em>Take 5</em> campaign targeting young adults, is that despite the pharma industry's reputational woes, <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67653-millennials-open-to-pharma-ads-but-pharma-not-delivering-on-ux">millennials are "by far the most receptive to pharmaceutical marketing</a>." </p> <p>This suggests that as pharma marketers hone their storytelling skills, their efforts will have the potential to produce results.</p> tag:www.econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/68237 2016-08-30T14:49:08+01:00 2016-08-30T14:49:08+01:00 Chipotle ruling shows importance of employee social media engagement Patricio Robles <p>In 2015, fast food chain Chipotle fired an employee, James Kennedy, shortly after he posted a tweet criticizing the company's pay in response to a customer who thanked Chipotle for free food.</p> <p>Kennedy deleted the tweet when confronted by a supervisor, who informed him that the tweet violated the company's social media policy, which prohibited employees from posting disparaging and false claims online.</p> <p>Kennedy was fired when he later started a petition related to employee breaks.</p> <p>In March, an NLRB judge, Susan Flynn, <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67669-what-brands-can-learn-from-chipotle-s-twitter-fiasco">ruled that Kennedy's firing violated labor laws</a> and that his tweet was considered protected speech under the National Labor Relations Act, which allows employees to freely discuss their working conditions. </p> <p>This month, much of Flynn's ruling <a href="http://www.mediapost.com/publications/article/283060/chipotles-social-media-policy-violated-law-says.html">was upheld</a> on appeal. This means the Chipotle social media policy that was in effect at the time was illegal because it could be used to prevent protected speech.</p> <p>The NLRB has been addressing social media issues like those in the Kennedy case <a href="https://www.nlrb.gov/news-outreach/fact-sheets/nlrb-and-social-media">for years</a> now, and has been warning employers about social media policies that run afoul of the law.</p> <p>But the fact that large employers like Chipotle are still having conflicts with employees over their social media use demonstrates the fact that corporate social media policies are still a thorny matter.</p> <h3>A better approach</h3> <p>Even so, companies <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67091-how-l-oreal-uses-social-media-to-increase-employee-engagement">like L'Oreal</a> are using social media to promote positive engagement with employees, providing evidence that with the right strategy and <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/11011-the-importance-of-supporting-employees-in-social-media">active support</a>, it's possible to <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/66806-how-to-turn-your-employees-into-company-advocates">turn employees into advocates on social media</a>.</p> <p>The benefits of this can be significant and range from increased employee morale to <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/66725-how-social-media-can-help-with-recruitment">more effective recruitment</a>.  </p> <p>The NLRB has also made it clear that social media policies can be used to restrict some employee criticisms that aren't covered by the National Labor Relations Act.</p> <p>Given that <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/5954-one-in-five-employees-use-social-media-to-criticise-the-boss">40% of employees use social media to criticize their workplace</a> and one in five uses it to criticize a superior, monitoring and addressing all employee social activity is going to be difficult, and doing so without risking a violation of employee rights is in some cases going to be all but impossible.</p> <p>The better, more realistic approach: Focus on developing a compelling <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67502-what-makes-a-good-employee-value-proposition">employee value proposition</a> and understanding what motivates <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/66218-the-five-types-of-content-employees-love-to-share-on-social-media">positive employee sharing on social media</a>. </p> <p>While this is more easily said than done, particularly for large companies whose employee ranks don't consist primarily of highly-paid professionals, employee social engagement is arguably as worthwhile an investment as consumer social engagement.</p> tag:www.econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/68098 2016-07-21T09:53:00+01:00 2016-07-21T09:53:00+01:00 Twitter announces application process for verified accounts: what marketers need to know Patricio Robles <p>Twitter announced a public verification application process that allows any brand or individual to request a verified account.</p> <p>According to Tina Bhatnagar, Twitter's vice president of User Services, "We hope opening up this application process results in more people finding great, high-quality accounts to follow, and for these creators and influencers to connect with a broader audience."</p> <p>Here's what marketers need to know about this development...</p> <h3>It's open to all</h3> <p>Twitter's new verification application process is available to all Twitter accounts that have a valid phone number and email address, and a bio, website, profile photo and header photo. In addition, accounts must be public and accounts for individuals must have a birthday specified.</p> <p>Applications for verification can be submitted through a form at <a href="http://verification.twitter.com">verification.twitter.com</a>.</p> <h3>Twitter looks for certain characteristics</h3> <p>While accounts meeting the above criteria are eligible for consideration, in deciding which requests to approve, Twitter looks for accounts that have certain characteristics.</p> <p>These include an account name that reflects the real name of an individual or company, as well as profile and header photos that are of the individual or associated with the company's branding. As such, marketers looking to submit an application for verification should ensure that the Twitter account in question meets these criteria.</p> <p>Brand accounts must be associated with a company email address, and Twitter may ask individuals to supply a government-issued ID.</p> <h3>There has to be a good reason for verification</h3> <p>Twitter won't verify accounts unless it believes there's a reason to.</p> <p>Specifically, Twitter requires verification applications to explain why verification is appropriate. "If the account represents a person, we want to understand their impact in their field. If it represents a corporation or company, let us know their mission," the company explains. </p> <p>To help support a rationale for verification, requests can and should include URLs to pages, such as news articles, that "help express the account holder’s newsworthiness or relevancy in their field."</p> <h3>Content marketing and engagement FTW</h3> <p>While not stated, it would seem that marketers behind active Twitter accounts that regularly publish unique, compelling content and engage with followers would be more likely to win Twitter's approval than accounts that aren't adding value to the Twitter community.</p> <p>While it probably wouldn't make sense for a brand to up its investment in Twitter just to win Verified Account status, those that are already investing in the platform probably have few reasons not to try to take advantage of the new application process. </p> <h3>There are no guarantees</h3> <p>Even when an account looks like a legitimate candidate for verification, Twitter isn't necessarily going to approve a verification request.</p> <p>Case in point: Hunter Walk, a former Google employee who now runs a venture capital firm, has tweeted more than 45,000 times since joining Twitter in 2006 and has more than 110,000 followers, but his application was denied.</p> <p>At the same time, a user with 7,500 tweets who joined Twitter in 2014 and has less than 9,000 followers received Verified Account status.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"> <p lang="en" dir="ltr">wanted to see what would happen if i used new Twitter Verification process. Answer: NO <a href="https://t.co/h3T2kggzD1">pic.twitter.com/h3T2kggzD1</a></p> — Hunter Walk (@hunterwalk) <a href="https://twitter.com/hunterwalk/status/755836108953444352">20 de julio de 2016</a> </blockquote> <p>Applications that are denied can be re-submitted after 30 days, so marketers that aren't able to win Twitter's approval the first time around should be proactive in making adjustments and trying again.</p>