Protecting your good name

Thanks to Internet chat rooms, message boards, and newsgroups, anyone can broadcast his or her opinions about your company to a large audience. If the opinions are positive, you get some free advertising. But if the spin is negative – a customer beefing about a backorder or a stockholder spreading a rumor about management – your sales, stock price, and brand could suffer.

To dispel and respond to any negative publicity that may arise, as well as get constructive criticism on improving service, many catalogers regularly search the ‘Net for mention of their company’s name. “If one person can find a reference online, others can too,” says Stephanie Healey, new media manager at Omaha Steaks.

The food cataloger, which employs an intern to monitor the Internet for such mentions, came across a college research paper that not only rated the company on overall customer service and policies, but also talked about price discrepancies between its print catalog and Website. “We quickly corrected the problem,” Healey says of the pricing. “Nothing impresses customers more than when you do something quickly.”

Indeed, the benefit of monitoring online discussions is being able to respond quickly to negative comments and false rumors. “Who’s to say what’s being said about us on the Internet is true?” asks Sam Young, director of marketing for Lexington, KY-based military supplies catalog U.S. Cavalry. “That’s why we keep an eye out for our name by searching Yahoo! and other search engines as often as time and resources allow.”

Customers can also lend a hand. Since most catalogers don’t have the time or resources to check online discussions daily, they rely on customers to inform them about what the public is saying. “I’m confident that if anything is said about us, our customers will let us know,” Young says.

As for dealing with detractors, Westbury, NY-based 1-800-Flowers monitors newsgroup discussions “occasionally,” says vice president of interactive services Donna Iucolano. “Our policy has been not to get involved in the public discussion but rather to try to follow up with the complainer in private when possible.”

Catalogers can also follow another course of action against negative comments. Because Internet firms such as America Online don’t disclose subscribers’ identities, some targets of libelous postings are filing “John Doe” lawsuits – submitted before the names of the defendants are known – that enable them to subpoena the identities of the subscribers.

Partner Content

Hincapie Sportswear Finds Omnichannel Success in the Cloud - Netsuite
For more and more companies, a cloud-based unified data solution is the way to make this happen. Custom cycling apparel maker Hincapie Sportswear has leveraged this capability to gain greater visibility into revenue streams, turning opportunities into sales more quickly while gaining overall operating efficiency. Download this ecommerce special report from Multichannel Merchant to more.
The Gift of Wow: Preparing your store for the holiday season - Netsuite
Being prepared for the holiday rush used to mean stocking shelves and making sure your associates were ready for the long hours. But the digital revolution has changed everything, most importantly, customer expectations. Retailers with a physical store presence should be asking themselves—what am I doing to wow the customer?
3 Critical Components to Achieving the Perfect Order - NetSuite
Explore the 3 critical components to delivering the perfect order.
Streamlining Unified Commerce Complexity - NetSuite
Explore how consolidating multiple systems through a cloud-based commerce platform provides a seamless experience for both you, and your customer.