Product Recalls: Just Another Reason to Monitor Your Online Image

By Stacey Tomasoni

Datacom General Manager Andrew Peel wrote back in May about the importance of social media monitoring for your brand — especially if you’re a business in Australia, home to the biggest users of social media in the entire world, according to Nielsen.

Knowing who’s saying what about your organisation online means you get to celebrate the praises and quickly address the complaints. It lets you track brand sentiment — is it going up or down? —, determine where you sit in terms of reach and engagement compared to industry competitors and cultivate a loyal online following of customers, prospects, employees, media members and brand evangelists.

Then there’s those (hopefully) once-in-a-blue-moon events requiring you to guard your online image especially well. These are disruptive, often crisis-response-level, events that could swiftly undo all the good work you’ve done to build your stock online and off. Among these events lies the dreaded product recall, something hundreds of Australian businesses faced last year.

Many businesses try to distance themselves as much as possible from a product recall. But by practising proactive product recall management and responding to conversations immediately, you can preserve your online presence during a recall. Social media monitoring holds the key to ensuring product recall management is successful.

Product recall management benefit No.1: You retain control

Bad or controversial news travels quickly. If you let the online community decide that your recall is scary, sinister or an indicator of poor quality assurance throughout your organisation, you’ll have an uphill battle from the start. Remember, the most disgruntled customers often have the loudest voices.

Tracking cyber chatter through advanced software that scans social sites for company and product mentions lets you find the conversations about your recall and respond to them immediately — before they spiral out of control. With the help of the social media monitoring service’s analytics team and your marketing department, you can identify which conversations to partake in and inject your own messaging — and the right information — to diffuse the fear and aggravation. Customers and the public will hear the non-dramatic version of the product recall situation and be able to then make a judgement based on balanced information. This will only help in your product recall management.

Product recall management benefit No.2: You steer people to the right information

Say, for instance, you find a customer affected by the recall who has no idea what to do. If you’re using social media monitoring, you can ease the individual’s fears and give him or her the information they need. The same can be said for unaffected customers, who may be taking to Twitter to ask anyone who will listen what they should do about their non-recalled product. If there’s a recall web site set up or a pre-qualification system in place to rule out non-affected customers, you can disseminate this information across social media as part of your product recall management strategy.

Product recall management benefit No.3: You take the conversation offline

If customers complain about your product recall online, knowing immediately when a negative comment goes up on Facebook or in a forum can help you quickly deescalate the issue. Often customers who get a quick response will remove the disparaging online comments themselves. You can then engage with the customers over the phone or through email and cut the chances that they’ll write additional complaints. That’s effective product recall management.

The same goes for journalists who might be nosing around about your recall. If you see journalists posting call-outs for recall-affected customers on Twitter, you can contact them to discuss the situation offline and possibly prevent it from being broadcast in the media. Through the social media monitoring services available with Datacom’s recall service, we were able to help one major company avoid any negative press during its recall and ensure proactive product recall management.

The bottom line for businesses: Having a social media monitoring plan in place for your brand before your product recall hits puts the ball in your court. Your organisation will be able to respond proactively, get the right message out to the right people and practice holistic product recall management. With all the hard work that goes into recalling a product, knowing that your brand is being looked after online gives your business a bit more breathing room.

Stacey Tomasoni has worked with Datacom for four years in a number of critical executive roles across the business. Her current role as General Manager, Australia has seen her lead large-scale operations across multiple sites, driving a number of positive business outcomes for both Datacom and its clients.

Stacey specialises in a number of areas, including rapid deployment of resources to respond to unexpected events, adoption of multi-channel resources, with a focus on self-help and call elimination, and using social media to listen, react and engage.

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