Organisations should consider negative content as a valuable asset. These comments represent the raw emotions of customers clearly aggrieved by the practices or products of the organisation. Whilst such content clearly has the ability to damage organisational brand equity, if suitable action to address the grievance is made then negative feelings towards the brand may be converted into positivity; most notably through organisational actions which are perceived to be more acceptable. Such content must be located in order to allow the organisation to benefit from the information contained therein.
Whilst it is imperative that organisations monitor what is said about it online, clearly it is impossible to locate each and every negative comment made on the internet. This should not be used as an excuse for failing to try. The use of reputation aggregators, such as Google, alongside more specialised platform specific search facilities, such as Technorati, provide an insight into organisational brand perceptions on the internet. Conversely, a number of organisations offer proprietary technology capability of identifying online brand image. Both strategies have their pros and cons; organisations must consider their specific needs in order to identify the strategy most applicable to them.
Conversely, the organisation can offer these platforms themselves. Clearly, by offering connectivity enhancing services such as blogs, forums, and discussion groups themselves, the organisation increases the likelihood that the customer will create negative content within a forum easily accessible to the organisation. The more visible the complaint is to the organisation, the greater the opportunity to address the issue. Although this does not negate the need for organisations to continue monitoring the environment, by offering these facilities the customer has a point of contact through which to raise their issues with the organisation. Such actions are only likely where the perceived likelihood of success is high. If customers consider the likelihood of successful redress to be low, then it is unlikely that they will use these systems. Herein lies the importance of transparency.