Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Online Reputation Management - 6 Important metrics

Online reputation management plays a very important role in building perception of a brand and in ultimately driving business results. User generated conversations and word of mouth have shown to have play a role in not just driving purchases but in also impacting stock prices. This makes having a strong Online Reputation Management system important for any brand. An effective Online reputation management system should contribute in building a positive perception of a brand through engagement and should lead to a higher equity for the brand. 
Building online reputation and managing it requires benchmarking to assess performance of your brand and the team. It thus makes it important to select the right metric and understand its relevance.

One of the most important aspects of Online reputation is to engage with people who are talking about your brand online, especially the ones talking about your brand negatively. This is important not just from the point of view of the person who is talking about your brand, but also from the perspective of spectators viewing those conversations. Perceptions about the brand are mostly build from these public threads of interactions between the brand and the consumer. Social media makes these threads spread at a very rapid pace. Considering the rapid spread of information, these threads if not handled properly can have negative consequences. Effective management of these conversations requires efficient tracking and measurement. Following are 6 important metrics that every brand needs to track for measuring its performance in managing and building online reputation.

1. Responsiveness
From the perspective of perception, the response of a brand to a conversation requires tracking responsiveness. Is the brand listening? If yes, is it interacting or responding swiftly? An important metric to track here is the average first response time. Average first response time gives a sense of responsiveness. A target for a brand especially in a service industry should be less than 15 minutes. Achieving this means setting up a 24x7 social media monitoring team. Depending on the business, an average first response time can also be up to 5-6 hours. Any negative conversation beyond 5 hours is a potential threat to the reputation. To measure and respond to online conversations, there are many tools (over 30 such tools and growing) that can be used. Some of the tools that you can check out are AirwootGermin8, and Radian6. They essentially monitor social media conversations, segregate conversations (positive and negative ones), and provide analytics. They can also be integrated with the CRM systems of the brand. Responsiveness measured by average first response time, or percentage of people responded within 5 minutes ( or a given target) can be easily tracked by these tools. A lower response time is an indicator of high responsiveness. For an effective online reputation management system, it is important to be high on responsiveness as it builds the perception that a brand cares and is listening to the voice of the customer.

2. Resolution rate
How long does a customer complaint or a query take to resolve on social media? Post a complaint or query coming on social media, how long does it take to resolve? An effective metric to track here is average resolution rate in hours or percentage issues resolved in a time frame such as 24 hours. High priority teams in any organization need to be created to quickly resolve social media cases. The resolution rate would give a sense of effectiveness of customer issue or query handling on social media. This can be tracked through Social CRM systems. Effective online reputation management means quick closure to complaints or queries. This builds the perception that a brand is swift in resolving issues. It also helps convert customers talking negatively about the brand in to advocates of the brand. This leads to the next metric of measuring advocates.

3. Advocacy
If 100 customers complained on social media in a month, how many were turned in to brand advocates? The resources required for marketing campaigns to create 100 brand advocates can be far higher than those required to create advocates out of 100 complaining customers. Through effective responsiveness and resolution, a complaining customer can be turned in to an advocate. It thus becomes important to measure the percentage of complaining customers being transformed in to brand advocates. Once a conversation thread leads to a positive conversation, it can be tagged and an overall percentage can be measured. This metric can serve an important purpose in driving agent targets as it measure effectiveness of responsiveness and resolution. 

4. Channel distribution
Which channels contribute to more issues? Is it Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, Consumer forums? What is their percentage?
Keeping a track of issues on a regular basis and their spread across various channels can give a sense of preferred medium of the consumer to touch base with the brand. This can help is understanding user behavior and help in allocation of resources. For instance a shift in percentage of complaints coming through consumer forums should be treated as a worrying sign as users are using media, which does not offer the convenience of a more widely adopted channel such as Facebook or Twitter.

5. Touch points
Do all customers come on social media and complaint? Have the complaining customers connected with the customer care earlier?
It is important to assess what percentage of customers come to customer care and then complaint on social media. This percentage coupled with the gap in hours or days for a complaint to spill over from a traditional customer service channel can help ascertain the health of customer care in servicing issues. Call abandon rates of the customer care for a brand also influence complaint volume on social media. A higher abandon rate or a lower resolution rate or  high ticket ageing could lead to higher social media complaint volume. This metric can help preempt high complaint volume on social media and can also help in reducing it.

6. Sentiment and Buzz
Social media sentiment is an important metric to track. While all the above mentioned metrics pertain to complaints and their servicing on social media, sentiment gives a broader picture of a brand's performance. It can measured through percentage of positive, negative and neutral conversations. An important thing to note here is that social media sentiment in isolation is not a good metric to measure. This is primarily because of high error rate in tagging conversations as positive, negative or neutral. While there are tools advancing in this domain, error rate is still a cause of concern. A good thing to do however is to benchmark it with competition using the same tool. This factors in the error in measuring sentiment. Various tools such as TalkwalkerMeltwaterSysomos among others can be used to get this data.

Overall buzz can be tracked by calculating share of voice on social media (A comparison of overall volume of conversations of a brand with competition). Sentiment on the other hand can be measure by calculating percentage of positive, negative and neutral sentiment for your brand and competition.
Buzz measured by conversation volume (or user generated content) and sentiment can be further bucketed in to categories to determine the aspects of brand being talked about on social media. This bucketing is typically enabled through tools and customer dashboards. This bucketing can enable a brand understand, which aspects of its service are being talked about more. It can also help assess volume of conversations generated through offline and online marketing activities. 

Deriving insights
Online reputation management broadly has two aspects. One pertains to reducing negative sentiment and the other in increasing positive sentiment. 

The first five metrics discussed i.e. responsiveness, resolution rate, advocacy, channel distribution, touch points cater to the aspect of reducing negative sentiment on social media. A good performance on these metrics indicates efficacy of a brand in reducing negative sentiment.

The sixth metric i.e. sentiment and buzz gives a picture of a brand's performance. Positive conversations, in particular percentage of positive sentiment and share of voice indicate the total active advocates of the brand on social media. A good performance here indicates performance of the brand and efficacy of marketing and social media engagement. To improve performance here a brand needs to focus on building advocacy and engagement. This metric can be further divided to identify factors contributing positive and negative sentiment to derive deeper insights.

An effective Online reputation management system needs to regularly track these metrics to measure its performance. Working on these metrics can ultimately lead to a positive perception of a brand on the internet. However it should be understood that a positive reputation on the internet is also contingent on the performance of the brand as a whole and its product/service quality. Online reputation management system and its metrics do play an important role in providing an overall feedback about the brand. A brand should further listen to this feedback and take appropriate actions and measure their impact.