All of us who are of a certain age have ordered products from the back of the comic books and thought they were the best things ever. Remember the seahorses you could grow, the bulging eyeglasses or even the Charles Atlas ads promising great results? We got the box, opened it up and were usually a little sad that it did not work the way we thought, or even more upset when it broke in a day.
Now I am not saying any of these were purposely sold as poor products, but what I am saying is that they had the odds in their favor that one’s voice would not impact business nationally.
What were the odds back then that if two people in the same market were disappointed with a product that their voices would go far? If someone thought the product was junk, they just felt a little ripped off.
The power of review sites and social media has swung the pendulum, empowering individuals to share their experiences with a large audience. Depending on how creative they are (check out the United Airlines guitar video on YouTube) a consumer’s response could go viral, which means hundreds of thousands of people online will see it and it even has a chance to get picked up in traditional (TV) media as well.
Everything is connected now and our social community has no boundaries. Businesses need to focus on the experience they deliver.
I recently mentioned in an article that the customer experience is the new currency for businesses. Instead of thinking that it does not matter what customers say, why not harness the power of them to become your evangelists and guide them to market for you?
Here are a few suggestions:
- Deliver excellence. If you can’t do this, then do not move on to step two. Fix step one first.
- Ask for reviews or testimonials after each transaction.
- Provide customers with an easy way to help you (e-mail links to review sites, e-mail surveys, get a quick testimonial video).
- Leverage this on you social media and marketing.
- Continue to reinforce step one every day.
Remember that hearing words like Reputation Management may be overwhelming or feel that you need to be doing something differently than before, but in reality businesses have been asking for referrals for years. Successful companies have grown their business (or not) based on the experience they deliver. In a small market you only had to rely on that to grow your business.
Nothing has changed. Do not get caught up into the false sense of security that the Internet has given you freedom to ignore your customer’s needs. Nothing could be further than the truth. If you are unsure of how to create a process to leverage your customer feedback, ask for help.
But make sure you ask the right questions:
- How are you going to help me market my reviews?
- Who is going to develop the process?
- How involved should my team be?
- How do I hold you accountable?
The reason I stress these questions is that you cannot outsource your reputation. Make sure to partner with someone who will help you expand your customer experience online.
By focusing on delivering excellence, and then leveraging the customers experience you will not have to hope that people are talking about you, you are encouraging this dialogue and the more people who know about your service excellence, the more you stand out and ultimately the more successful you will become.