Word Of Mouth - Getting Customers Talking


What makes for 5-star reviews?

It’s this simple - every single person that comes into contact with your business today will become one of three things for you: a promoter, a passive, or a detractor. No exceptions to the rule.

So what would you rather? A customer recommending your business to all their family, friends and beyond? A customer who was given no reason to talk about you at all? Or a customer talking negatively about their experience of dealing with you? A rhetorical question - but what makes this topic so exciting is it’s likely around 70% of your customers are actually ‘passives’, and converting them to promoters is not as hard as you may think. Passives are just customers whose expectations were met: in other words, you gave them nothing worth talking about, which can quickly and easily be changed.

To state the obvious: to get people talking about you, you have to give them something to talk about. You want to get customers saying, “Gosh, you didn’t need to do that…”

Here are some categories for you to consider, along with practical, real world examples on how to turn ‘passive’ into ‘promoter’:

As the theme song from the television series Cheers so clearly put it, “Sometimes you want to go, where everybody knows your name, and they’re always glad you came.” People want to know how much you care, before they care how much you know. Use names, acknowledge past purchases, and make people feel special, purely by recognising them and taking an interest in them. Invite clients to use the phrase, “tell ‘em I sent you,” with a promise for the recipient to receive extra special attention as a result.

Do something out of the blue that comes as unexpected. A great example of this comes from a boat upholsterer who, upon receipt of payments of $2,000 or greater, replies with a letter a week or so later. The letter thanks the client for the opportunity to work on their boat then explains that some of the materials used on the job have come in under estimate due to an extra discount they have received from their supplier. Their policy states any savings they can make are handed back to the client; please find enclosed a cheque for $121.35… Surprise customers and they will tell other people about you. Never underestimate the power of surprise. Let the consumer discover the best thing about you, instead of hearing you shout it from the rooftops.

Above and Beyond
Encourage your staff to have a ‘solution mind-set’ with every opportunity they are presented with. Take the story of the clerk at Nordstrom’s department store who refunded the full amount an elderly lady had paid for a car tyre, even though Nordstrom never sold her the tyre (Nordstrom don’t sell tyres). This story has travelled the world many times over. Above and beyond creates word of mouth.

Doing something differently literally becomes the definition of a conversation starter. With the ‘better than’ bar continually being raised in the battle for consumer attention, difference is still the stuff that people talk about. Stop trying to be better and start focusing on being different. Take an Australian dentist who, instead of getting you back for numerous visits, numerous injections and numerous bills, sits you down for an extended period and gets all your dental work completed in one visit. To make patients relaxed, there is a baker making hot bread in the practice with the delicious aroma cancelling the smell of dentistry chemicals.

Simple but different. This dentist uses no advertising and clients are only accepted through referral: by being different to your competition you give people something to talk about.

People share information because it makes them look good. In Tom Clancy’s book Executive Orders, the story is told of a US President who gets his chair designed to fit the exact contours of his back by an orthopaedic chair manufacture who does it for free without fanfare. However, imagine the opportunity to inform your next potential client that your chair is the one used by the President in the Oval office. Remarkable story to tell and the ultimate endorsement and testimony to demonstrate quality, and get people talking.

It’s not the cost of the extras - it’s the way they’re given. Upon walking onto a car sales yard with my children, we were greeted by a salesperson who handed each of my children a matchbox car. After I purchased a car from them, I got it home to find a box of assorted wine in the boot. One week later, we got a teddy bear in the mail with a big ‘thank you’ written on its sweater. Little extras, but a story I’m still telling 7 years later.

New - Cool stuff
Because of our need to add value in conversations, we love to have information to share that others do not have. People love to talk about new things. A colleague of mine was recently at a networking group meeting where a builder was speaking about his trade, and cleverly took the opportunity to show off a new range of fingerprint entry door locks that had become affordable for the domestic house owner. Of the 20 or so people who spoke that day, my colleague only came back and told the builder’s story of ‘new stuff’. Every industry has new products and services being introduced to them, so highlight these developments, place them on the counter, tell customers about them and you’ll be giving them something they can talk to other people about.

Upserve means doing more for the other person than they expect or you initially intended, taking the extra steps that transform a mundane interaction into a memorable experience. This simple move-from upselling to upserving has the obvious advantage of being the right thing to do. But it also carries the hidden advantage of being extraordinarily effective. Anytime you’re tempted to upsell someone else, stop what you’re doing and upserve instead. Don’t try to increase what they can do for you. Elevate what you can do for them.

So why do people talk about you? Information is status, people share what makes them look good, and both recommendations and warnings can achieve this. Give people a chance to feel important, make them feel important, treat them like they’re important. Ironically, this is the number one reason a previously unhappy customer will tell more people their story than a customer made happy in the first instance. Because if you can turn an unhappy customer around, you give them a chance to tell their world that they were treated like they’re important. So, better still, treat them like they’re important right from the start.

Be aware that word of mouth entries need to be authentic. Manufactured, exaggerated, overly detailed comments could be taken as non-authentic. Customer comments do not tend to sound like adverts. A frank, genuine entry is more powerful than a clichéd, all-encompassing comment.

Gear your business up for the sea change in marketing: become a champion of word of mouth marketing. Because marketers who used to focus on the four Ps (Product, Placement, Price, Promotion), will now have to focus on the three Es: Engage, Equip, Empower. If you can master these, you can become the most beloved and talked about product in your category, which will ultimately lead to increased sales, growth and success.

  1. Engage—Give your fans the gift of you. Engage with them. Listen to what they’re telling you. Be part of the conversation about your brand. Be a presence in your customers’ lives.
  2. Equip—Give them reasons to talk. It can be amazing products, great service, insider knowledge, social elevation, incredible stories, unbelievable facts or even funny disclosures. It’s on you.
  3. Empower—Give consumers different ways to talk and share. Let them know that they are important to you and that sharing their opinions is important to you.
    Remember we’re all e-businesses now - no escaping it - so get Amplifying your positive word of mouth online, and start reaping the rewards today.

Now get Amplifing!!!

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