Word of Mouth Advertising: Give them Something to Talk About

By Kristina Blanco, The Spectrum Services Group

Whether they’re positive or negative, we all know that people are going to talk about their experiences in regards to their dealings with companies. However just ‘meeting’ the expectations of your customer may not be enough to get them to promote you to others. Chances are, that without that special ‘wow factor’ they may be content, but not impressed with your products or services, thus making them less likely to go out and promote you to others.

We all know that word of mouth advertising is one of the very best ways to increase and maintain consistent business. However, to back up this statement, here are some recent statistics published on bazaarvoice.com:

  • 71% of those surveyed stated that family members or friends exert a ‘great deal’ or ‘fair amount’ of influence in buying decisions.1
  • 81% said they’d received advice from friends and followers relating to a product purchase through a social site, and 74% of them found that advice to be influential in their decision. 2
  • 90% of consumers online trust recommendations from people they know; 70% trust opinions of unknown users. 3

So then how can you ensure that you are doing everything you can to encourage positive word of mouth advertising? Here are a few ideas:

Ask for Complaints & Rise to the Occasion
Studies show that a relatively small amount of people will complain directly to an offending company. It is more likely that they will simply take their business elsewhere, and then complain to others about their experience. This propensity in human nature can be damaging to companies who don’t know how to encourage all types of communication (both positive and negative) from their customers. To ensure you don’t end up with disgruntled customers, look for ways to foster direct communication. This could include providing comment cards, conducting periodic surveys, or consistent follow up calls asking how your customers would rate their overall experience and whether there are any areas for improvement. If you’re approachable, you’re more likely to be given the opportunity to correct any issues.

Look at complaints as an opportunity to create a life-long customer. If you can admit your mistakes and take the necessary steps to correct them you will gain the customer’s trust and respect. Showing integrity and a genuine concern for their satisfaction will lead to a stronger future relationship.

Under Promise & Over Deliver
If you promise to ‘meet’ your customers expectations you leave room to actually ‘exceed’ them instead. A couple of ways you can do this include:

  • Treat each customer like a friend of your company. You can do this by remembering their name, their ‘usual order’ or asking a follow up question to the last conversation you had with them. People like to be remembered and by paying attention to them as a person, not just a wallet – you’re more likely to not only create a lifelong customer – but a great word of mouth referral source.
  • Do what you say you will – every time. A broken or forgotten promise is a hard thing to fix, and it communicates to your customer that you didn’t care enough about their needs to follow through for them.
  • If you make a mistake, apologize. Sincerity can go a long way in repairing a rift. So be sure to be honest and forthright with your customers at all times – even when you have to admit when you are wrong.
  • Look for the ‘extra’s’. In most transactions there are small opportunities to go above and beyond the norm. Seek these out and show you truly care about customer satisfaction.

Ask for Referrals
Once you have established a great foundation of excellence, both in your products and services, as well as in your customer interactions – the next step is to ask for their support. If you are doing everything you can to go above and beyond, this should be a natural move. Consistently reminding your customers that you value their referrals and creating an incentive program to re-pay them for their efforts can go a long way. Additionally, ask happy customers for testimonials to your service. Many will be honored to provide you with an example of how you’ve gone above and beyond.

1 Harris Interactive, June 2010 as published on bazaarvoice.com
2 myYearbook, Click Z, January 2010
3 Econsultancy, July 2009

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