I jumped at the chance to be interviewed on ITV national news about Evri’s delivery service. I have had many negative experiences with the courier breaking the contents of my parcels, leaving my packages in the mud and being subjected to several notices that I was not home when I was very much home. Somewhere along the line, the company went from a minor annoyance in my life to something I have to avoid at all costs.
Indeed, I legitimately have strong feelings on this topic. So much so that I created a Twitter account to track and list all companies that use Evri for deliveries so that I could boycott them. For the past six months, I’ve done my best to avoid buying products from companies that use Evri because I know that the package will not arrive on time – if it does arrive at all. In order to save me the run-around of chasing packages, I simply stopped buying from companies that send with Evri. I created the Twitter account to share the list of companies that use Evri to help others avoid them, too, because it makes me furious when I see anyone being taken advantage of. When something unfair happens, I can’t help but say something – even if it’s embarrassing to the people around me, or if it means going on national news to complain.
I also run a digital marketing company. So, this experience with Evri – from the horrible customer service I experienced first-hand down to the interview on ITV News – is even more interesting to me as it serves as a great lesson in online reputation management.
How to prevent this from happening to your company
1. You must have a social media presence and an online reputation management strategy.
An online presence to communicate with customers is not optional. Customers expect to have the ability to contact your customer service team on social media. Even if you have a customer service team, people will air their grievances online anyway, where the chance of a response is higher than by email. Companies without an online customer service strategy will find themselves inundated with online complaints. Remember, even a strong customer service strategy can culminate in an online backlash if customers don’t like the answers they were given. No matter how great your product is, or how many people you employ on your customer service team, having a social media strategy to deal with this is critical.
2. Rebranding won’t mean a thing if meaningful changes aren’t made.
Nothing will anger customers more than a company that doesn’t even seem to even try to do better. Look, I know it’s not easy to keep every customer happy. Even from the best of companies, there will be mistakes and things can easily slip between the cracks. The least a company can do is show they are trying to improve upon customers’ pain points. Evri’s rebrand budget should have included a large sum going toward fixing the problems that caused the brand so much damage in the first place, or at the very least, a better customer service strategy to handle complaints. The only changes that seemed to be made were in the name and logo. Customers see that and understand exactly where the company’s priorities lie, and they are not happy about it.
3. Consult with an Online Reputation Management professional.
I know this sounds biased because I am a practitioner; however, I think how this played out with Evri shows the need for making sure experienced online reputation management professionals have a seat at the table when decisions are made. Evri was named the worst courier for the second-year running back in November. Instead of owning up to their mistakes, their press release responding to the accusation says (in part), “The survey from the Citizen’s Advice Bureau is based on inaccurate data … is overly reliant on Twitter and includes reference to fake and incorrect handles.” Instead of using the feedback for improvement, they’ve dug their heels in and insisted they aren’t as bad as customers say they are.
Fast forward to 10 January 203, when Labour MP Carolyn Harris brought up Evri’s reputation in Prime Minister’s Questions. She asked, “Does the Prime Minister believe that over 40,000 interactions by either social media, email or letter regarding the poor customer service and working conditions at the delivery company Evri warrants an investigation by the relevant Government department?” This is when the apology was made that caused a slew of news stories that only further exacerbated the situation. Bringing a spokesperson out to apologise for Christmas delays and blaming the weather, staff shortages and industrial action when your company had this problem before any of those things happened, was a mistake.
How to control your reputation online
I respond to as many requests for comment from journalists as possible if they are legitimately relevant to me. You can find them yourself by searching #journorequest on Twitter. In my opinion, it’s almost always worth putting yourself forward for anything you can comment upon and can legitimately relate to. So, keep your options open when looking for opportunities to comment on trending news stories, even if it’s not an opportunity to promote yourself or your company. By doing this ITV interview, I met an ITV journalist that I wouldn’t have otherwise met. Hopefully, the journalist and producer liked that I responded to their request via an email outlining my talking points (they phoned me literally 1 minute after I sent it to them) and that I made myself available for the Zoom interview 15 minutes after the initial email was sent. Even if nothing further comes from it, it’s great practice and the whole experience always gets my blood pumping. Plus, your mum will definitely want your autograph.
An experienced PR professional will help brands and individuals actively manage their online reputation by working to prevent or minimise negative comments online while highlighting positive customer experiences in search results. Online reputation management work should include:
- Creating a strategy to prevent negative comments online
- Identifying ways to improve customer experience
- Highlighting positive customer experiences that appear in search results
- Establishing an easy-to-follow process for online reputation management
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