Say you’re sorry

Finweek English Edition - - Advertising & marketing -

FACED WITH an im­age or “rep­u­ta­tion man­age­ment” prob­lem, many big cor­po­ra­tions adopt an at­ti­tude of lordly su­pe­ri­or­ity, re­fus­ing to re­spond to, or even ac­knowl­edge neg­a­tive pub­lic­ity.

But ac­cord­ing to Rob Stokes, founder of Quirk, a full-ser­vice e-mar­ket­ing agency, this is the worst thing you can do. Take Dell, the on­line com­puter mar­keter. “Two or three years ago a blog­ger started writ­ing about neg­a­tive ex­pe­ri­ences with Dell ser­vice,” says Stokes. “For two years Dell ig­nored him, while its stock price took a tum­ble, cost­ing Dell mil­lions of dol­lars in bad rep­u­ta­tion. They have now started lis­ten­ing to peo­ple, not putting their heads in the sand. By lis­ten­ing, re­spond­ing and apol­o­gis­ing, you turn a neg­a­tive per­cep­tion into a far stronger pos­i­tive. It’s so easy to dis­arm a dis­grun­tled cus­tomer if you just say I’m sorry, just look them in the eye and apol­o­gise.”

The ubiq­uity and speed of In­ter­net com­mu­ni­ca­tion have put a pre­mium on on­line rep­u­ta­tion man­age­ment, says Stokes. “You’ve got to be con­cerned about rep­u­ta­tion. You can never con­trol it, but you can man­age it.

“The medium lends it­self to ac­cu­rate track­ing of men­tions of a com­pany and its se­nior ex­ec­u­tives. One brand we han­dle gets five times as many men­tions on­line as off­line. On­line con­sumers have a voice. Off­line don’t.”

Now 12 years old, Quirk started with email mar­ket­ing. “Now we’ll do what­ever it takes to build brands and drive busi­ness on­line.”

It’s easy to

dis­arm a dis­grun­tled cus­tomer if

you just say sorry. Rob Stokes

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