I wrote a post a week or so ago about receiving what I thought was pretty horrible customer service at the hands of a local dentist. The post received a lot of feedback and it wasn’t really all that surprising that I wasn’t the only person to have received such crummy customer service at the hands of a healthcare provider. But that’s another blog post.
What happened a few days after the blog post published, however, was something that made me happy. Really happy.
The doctor that I wrote about, Dr. Jeffrey Brown, well, he did the unthinkable. He read the post, then he picked up the phone and called me. Yup, you read that right – he actually called me. When was the last time somebody that you had a beef with did that? And then, he did something even better – he apologized. Kudos to Dr. Brown for doing something that so few people – much less business owners — have guts enough to do.
And, as I mentioned in my original blog post, it reassured me that Dr. Brown isn’t a bad guy or a bad dentist. In fact, he’s probably a terrific guy and I’m pretty sure he’s a good dentist, too. He just wasn’t the dentist for me – so I chose to leave his practice after a few visits.
But what really impressed me about Dr. Brown is that, obviously, he’s smart enough to be monitoring his brand in the online presence. And that, my friends, is absolutely, positively critical – whether you’re a very big company or a very small one. Want to know more?
How to Monitor Your Brand in the Online Space
It’s so ridiculously simple the fact that everyone on the planet doesn’t do it is amazing to me. Google Alerts is one of the most overlooked tools out there and, even better, it’s free! All you have to do is sign up and Google does a lot of the work for you. You can set up Google alerts for your name, your business name, your competitors’ names – or for other keywords that you’re interested in monitoring. You can have alerts delivered to you daily, weekly or in real time. We use Google Alerts every single day. Isn’t it time you did, too?
Another tool that we use often is SocialMention. This platform allows you to check mentions of your name, your brand, your competitors, etc., in real time. Much like Google Alerts, SocialMention allows you to check for brand mentions on blogs, microblogs, bookmarks, etc., as well as in videos, in images, in blog comments and on Q&A platforms like Quora and the like.
We monitor SocialMention on behalf of clients on a daily basis and if you’ve not yet discovered this tool, you should definitely check them out. It’s not the only tool out there, but it’s another free resource and definitely worth investigating.
MonitorThis is a free service that collates results from 25 different global search engines into a single RSS feed style report. We Americans naively like to think that the goings on in the U.S. are all that matter, but if you’re doing business globally, this is a tool for you. MonitorThis makes it easy to stay on top of anything that’s going on – anywhere – about your brand.
Other Tools You Should Know About
There are a ton of other great tools out there. And that’s a whole different post. However, some that we like include things like Twitter Search (for real-time mentions on Twitter), Technorati and Google Blog Search (for blog mentions), Backtype and UberVu (for blog comments) and Boardtracker (for comments on message boards and forums).
My friend, Francisco Rosales at SocialMouths, wrote a terrific post called How to Monitor Your Brand Without Losing Your Shirt. It’s an excellent post filled with some great resources and a more dialed down look at some of them. If you’re interested in knowing more about monitoring your brand and finding some additional resources to check out, we suggest you head on over there and dive into Francisco’s brain. Oh, and stalk him regularly. You’ll be glad you did.
Hurdles to Brand and Reputation Monitoring
There’s a lot of information out there and once you start monitoring your brand, you’ll need to put filters in place to ensure that you don’t get overwhelmed by the sheer volume of data and filter out the noise so that you can get to the content that’s relevant to you.
You can pay folks like Sysomos or Spiral16 or Radian6 for your brand monitoring, but that can get expensive and, regardless of what these nice folks might say, not everyone needs to spend a boatload a month on monitoring services.
Before you go down that path for you and your business, first set up Google Alerts and explore the wealth of information that you’ll soon have delivered to your email inbox. Set up a Google Reader account and feed some of the resources mentioned above into your reader and voila, you’ll be considerably further ahead when it comes to brand monitoring than you were when you started.
Plus, doing it this way allows you to first get familiar with the depth and breadth of information that’s out there about you and your brand – and can ultimately help you figure out if you need a more sophisticated system – or a paid tool – to help weed out the relevant content from the wacky stuff.
Back to the Good Doctor
Back to Dr. Jeffrey Brown at Romanelli Dental. He’s a smart guy. Smart enough that as a guy running a neighborhood dental practice he’s engaging in some form of brand monitoring – most likely Google Alerts. As a result, he not only very quickly received notification of the blog post I wrote, complaining about receiving what I thought was pretty lousy customer service, he was able to immediately do something about it.
Being Human – The Secret Sauce to Surviving a Brand Crisis
And therein lies the rub. The way to survive a brand crisis is really so easy. Yet on a daily basis very big brands and very small ones fail miserably at it. But not Dr. Brown. And what he did, well, it wasn’t rocket science. He just acted like a human. And equally as important, he treated me like one. He owned up to a mistake and apologized for it. Amazing how easy it is to smooth something over when you do that. Just act human.
And, as a result, I now get to hold Dr. Brown up as an example of a smart guy, doing things right. He not only personally reached out to right a customer service wrong, he’s clearly savvy about the Internet and how to use it to track his brand and monitor his reputation. Well done all the way around, Dr. Brown. And I appreciate the kindness you displayed in reaching out to me personally about the letter I received. Kudos to you.
How to Manage Your Reputation: Information is Power
Bottom line, information is power. And in today’s uber connected world, you can rest assured that when clients or prospects experience something unpleasant at the hands of your business, they are no longer just going to just grouse about it over the dinner table. They’re going to take their thoughts to Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, consumer review sites, their personal blogs, other people’s blogs, to Google and beyond. And, as in the case of Dr. Brown, you could very well have not intentionally set out to offend or insult someone – it might have happened at the hands of an unthinking staffer or be due to an outdated policy that somebody should have been paying attention to. And these things – well, they happen all the time.
So, do yourselves a favor. At the very least, set up Google Alerts. Today. Then, make a promise to yourself to explore some of the tools mentioned here. We’re pretty sure that you’ll be glad you did.
P.S. Dr. Brown, if you’re reading this post, you really, really, really need a new website.Photo credit: The fab Juliaf over at The StockXchange