Online Reputation Management: How do you solve a problem like J&T Express?

Disclaimer: This article was written without negative intentions on J&T Express Philippines neither is it sponsored by the said company. This article is meant to be an editorial piece that every marketer may probably learn a thing or two.

In the two past weeks, the Philippine franchise of J&T Express has been under fire due to a viral video where employees were seen mishandling parcels in one of their warehouses. Aside from the cringing carelessness of how they loaded items in the delivery truck, some of the employees were seen ‘shirtless’ and were not wearing any protective gear even face masks.

The global pandemic has pushed most businesses to move their transactions online. The Philippines is no exception of course. Filipinos have relied on online shopping sites like Shopee and Lazada for their purchasing needs especially in stores that have been affected by the lockdown (such as gadgets and computers, clothing, etc). There’s also a spike in online sellers as millions of Filipinos suffered from unemployment.

Thus, this created a huge demand for couriers and cargo services. The public is well aware of the pressure these services are going through from both the consumers and the authorities. These couriers are considered ‘frontliners’ and ‘modern day heroes’ risking their own health for the welfare of the majority. We all tried to be patient in dealing with late deliveries and sometimes, damaged parcels.

And now we know why.

This leaked video has quickly caught the public’s attention and has gained thousands of shares a few hours after it was uploaded. The public is unforgiving especially during this time when we are in need of reliable courier services and entrepreneurs are holding on to their very last penny to keep their business going.

And it didn’t stop there. A couple more videos of employees mishandling parcels circulated outside their warehouse.  Aside from mishandling packages, a recipient is also on a manhunt of the whereabouts of a J&T rider who delivered her parcel with a huge ‘F*ck Me Please’ note hand written on it.

A few days after, J&T Express Philippines have placed an ad on Jobstreet looking for a public relations officer who can help them undo the damage and possibly salvage whatever is left of their customer base. If only it’s that easy…

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What is Online Reputation Management?

Online Reputation Management (ORM) is the process of monitoring, identifying, and influencing the digital footprint of an individual or a brand. It’s basically damage control, but in the online world. In this day and age, where social media plays a big role in our lives, it is important to have a good reputation online. Our digital footprint will follow us wherever we go.

For businesses, a good reputation means more customers and more sales. For individuals, it can mean better job opportunities and social interactions. A bad reputation can have the opposite effect. That’s why it is important to know how to manage our online reputation or someone else’s.

A “bad reputation” can come from all sorts of places. It can be from a bad review on Yelp, comment on your Facebook Page or Twitter Page, a negative news article or even a viral video like the one J&T Express is currently dealing with. It can also be in the form of a “crisis” such as a data breach, a CEO getting caught in a scandal, or anything else that can damage the company’s reputation.

Regardless of where it comes from, it is important to know how to deal with it. And that’s what ORM is for.

How to Do Reputation Management Online?

There are a few things you can do to manage your online reputation:

  1. Google yourself – This should be the first thing you do. Google your name and see what comes up. If there is anything negative, you need to address it immediately.
  2. Create social media accounts – Social media is a great way to control the narrative. If you have a negative article about you, you can post your side of the story on social media. This will help people see your side, and they can decide for themselves who is in the right.
  3. Monitor what is being said about you – You need to be proactive about your reputation. You can do this by setting up Google Alerts or using a social media monitoring tool. This way, you will be notified whenever someone mentions you online.
  4. Respond to negative comments and reviews – When someone says something negative about you, don’t ignore it. Address it head-on. Thank the person for their feedback and try to resolve the issue.
  5. Promote positive content – In addition to responding to negative comments, you should also promote positive content through content marketing. This can be in the form of blog posts, articles, testimonials, or anything else that paints you in a positive light.

Managing your online reputation is not a one-time thing. It is an ongoing process. You need to be vigilant and proactive about it. ORM is important for businesses and individuals alike. So if you haven’t started doing it, now is the time.

online reputation management

Why is Online Reputation Management Important?

As we mentioned earlier, ORM is important for businesses and individuals alike. Here are a few reasons why:

  • It helps you control the narrative – When something negative is said about you, you can respond to it and tell your side of the story. This way, people can make up their own minds about who is in the right.
  • It builds trust and credibility – A good reputation online will help build trust and credibility. This is important for businesses because it will lead to more customers and sales. For individuals, it can lead to better job opportunities.
  • It protects you from negative consequences – A bad reputation can have all sorts of negative consequences. It can damage your business, cost you job opportunities, and make socializing hard. ORM can help you avoid all of that.

As you can see, online reputation management is important. If you don’t already have a system in place to manage your reputation, now is the time to start.

What Are the Risks of Not Doing Online Reputation Management?

There are a few risks associated with not doing online reputation management:

  • You could lose customers and sales – A bad reputation can scare away potential customers and lead to lost sales. This is especially true for businesses that rely on word-of-mouth marketing.
  • You could miss out on job opportunities – A bad reputation can also cost you job opportunities. If a potential employer does a Google search of your name and finds negative results, they are unlikely to hire you.
  • You could have difficulty socializing – A bad reputation can make socializing difficult. If people think badly of you, they may not want to associate with you. This can lead to isolation and loneliness.

These are just a few of the risks associated with not doing online reputation management. As you can see, it is important to take ORM seriously. If you don’t, you could end up facing some serious consequences.

So. How do we solve a problem like J&T Express Philippines?

This is not the first time social media has destroyed a brand with a single post. And though it seems like the damage is already irreversible, there’s still a bit of hope. Here’s my take on this and how brands like J&T Express Philippines could help save their brand and online reputation.

Acknowledge, Apologize, and Show the Public Actions You Have Taken

It’s not like the company has yet to release a statement about the issue. They have. But the public is still being critical about it. Well, who could blame them?

Brands with bad reputation should constantly show their customers that they have or is taking necessary actions to discipline those who were caught in the video, and identify what those actions are. Are they going to be fired? Are they going to be suspended? Will there be more training? Will there be additional monitoring in warehouses?

Since the magnitude of the damage is so huge, and everyone’s keeping an eye on J&T’s every move, best to publicly document all of these actions. No need to drop the names of those caught in the video but at least show the public that the company is doing something to improve their system.

And of course, don’t forget to sincerely apologize especially to the sellers. Give out incentives and discounts to sellers as a way to make up for the inconvenience this has caused them.

Feature Your Best Employees – Documentary Style

J&T Express’ official statement said that this is an isolated case. If that’s the case, show that it really is. Make a weekly feature about your best employees.

The company has done this but it’s not consistent and it’s not powerful enough. And probably, published this too soon.

Again, let’s go back to the first step which is to acknowledge and apologize to the public in the humblest way you can. The public will scrutinize your every attempt to publish something that highlights your positive side (which actually happened if you look into comments on their every post). You want to improve your trust rating first. And earning trust is a process. Not an overnight thing.

In every business, there are good employees and there are bad ones. And unfortunately for businesses, the mistake of a single staff becomes the burden of the entire brand.

A good way for J&T to salvage their staff’s reputation is by featuring good employees, their life outside of work, and how why they enjoy working with company. Instead of just a collage of images, invest in videographers – make it a little cinematic in nature like a documentary. Remember, you want to show the people you have a ‘heart’. You want to have that emotional connection to your customers so that you can re-earn their trust.

Build More Partnerships

Instead of posting happy customer reviews, network and build strategic partnerships. Don’t go after big enterprises as they would probably not want to trust your brand either after that online wreckage. Start by working with non-profits and government agencies. And of course, don’t forget to document it for public viewing.  Show that you can actually do a great job and you are not after the profit but rather you are passionate in fulfilling your ‘why’ (purpose).

Ride it Out and Be Consistent

Last but not the least, ride it out. The thing with J&T Express Philippines’ current reputation management strategy is that they are inconsistent with their approach, which clearly shows they’re in panic with all the bashes they’re getting.

Their official statement sounded arrogant and would not disclose what ‘sanctions’ they are doing for misbehaving employees. Flooding their wall with positive customer reviews is doing them more harm than good as it’s obviously a desperate move. No, J&T, you can’t clean your reputation by publishing screenshots of positive reviews.

When I say ride it out, let the issue die down on its own. Don’t look too desperate trying to immediately recover. Again, acknowledge, apologize, and show the public you are taking action. Do what is right. Constantly show that to the public. Prove that not all employees are as bad as what is seen on the negative media. The issue will die down eventually. And slowly, you will earn the public’s trust again.

Consistency is the key. Just like in romantic relationships, consistency is also what drives customer relationships. If you have implemented a new protocol, make sure that is carried out in every branch, every warehouse, and every rider and it should be constantly practiced.

PS: Please hire us J&T Express, lol!

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Hi I’m Maria!

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