by Alice Alessandri and Alberto Aleo
It is a fact that word-of-mouth is one of the most powerful marketing tools and that there is nothing better than having people disinterestedly recommend our company and products to convince other consumers to buy. Reviews allow us to overcome customers’ distrust more easily, which is one of the most complex levels in the circle of trust.
Let’s remember though that word-of-mouth needs to be sincere and spontaneous in order to preserve its “power”.
How can we increase the chances that our clients will speak well of us, therefore contributing to positive word-of-mouth?
We’ll try and give an answer in the next few lines.
Networking is not word-of-mouth
Having a large network of contacts doesn’t necessarily mean that people will speak well of us. Statistics tell us that negative word-of-mouth travels faster and more deeply than positive comments: on average, it is considered that consumers who are dissatisfied with our products will report it to three times as many people as those who are satisified. In some cases expanding our network of contacts, without paying attention to the quality of relationships, can become a boomerang.
Sometimes social network fanatics improperly think that having a lot of “friends” and “likes” automatically means having a positive reputation, although this is not always the case.
Photo by Karsten Winegeart on Unsplash
The 3 main factors that trigger positive word-of-mouth are: customer satisfaction, customer loyalty over the years and our relational style.
Satifaction: keeping our promises
It may seem trivial, but in order to satisfy our customers we have to keep the promises that have originally attracted them towards us. The problem is that companies and professionals are often not aware of what they are actually promising, and therefore attract customers who are very different from the “ideal” profile they had in mind. Besides recommending our article dedicated to the law of attraction, we would like to draw your attention to the following aspect:
Very often customers themselves are unaware of the motivations and needs that make them feel “attracted” by our offer, let alone us!
Photo by Ian Schneider on Unsplash
Customers want to find concrete answers to their needs (what do I need?) and motivations (why do I need it?) through their purchases: however unintentional these needs and motivations may be, they will disappoint the clients if they are not satisfied, therefore sooner or later undermining our reputation and causing negative word-of-mouth. How can you identify and satisfy them? You can start by reading the article we have dedicated to theart of active listening.
Loyalty: giving customers a reason for staying with us
A loyal customer is a customer who keeps buying our products and speaks well about us, therefore being an important actor of positive word-of-mouth. But when can we consider our customers really loyal? They can in fact get furious when presented with a mistake and might be unwilling to let it go. The circle of trust has a peculiar and dangerous characteristic: the first 5 levels are distinguished by “negative inertia”, therefore we’ll get expelled at our very first failed trust test.
Only when we have reached the level of extended and rewarded trust will inertia become positive and will customers be ready to forgive us for any possible small mistakes.
In business practice this last level of customer relationship is represented by the after-sales service and by all those actions we take after the clients have bought our products, with particular reference to complaint management and problem solving procedures, which we have described in a specific post.
Style: giving more
Sometimes we waste valuable opportunities to increase positive word-of-mouth. Just think, for example, of how some companies and professionals use their social networks, making excessive use of hashtags – therefore making their texts incomprehensible – or creating a virtual profile which is inconsistent with their own actions. There are also those who write only in self-referential terms, without captivating the readers and all the people who are observing reality from behind the smartphone camera; they are more focused on “posting” what is happening than experiencing things in relation to the people around them.
Whatever medium we choose to dialogue with people and encourage them to speak well of us, we must remember that communication has to be first of all “human”, i.e. concentrate on people, respect them, understand them with the awareness of what binds us together.
Relationships are regulated by the law of reciprocity which tells us that before taking we must give and, even before that, we must be authentically ourselves.
If you want people to talk well about you, then return the favour in advance! Contribute to positivity, to the pleasantness and serenity of your real or virtual relationships. Stop behaving like “prima donnas”, and generously leave the stage to those who have something to say. If you concentrate on giving more than on taking, your communication style will improve spontaneously and will become more pleasant, humble and human: all these features encourage positive word-of-mouth.
We in Passodue don’t like the expression “no press is bad press” that is inspiring the current communication style. Desire of protagonism and sensationalism have led to an unpleasant and self-centered kind of communication.
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Let’s rediscover the taste of listening to other people, leaving them space to talk and caring about their complete satisfaction: this way we’ll create the ideal conditions for fostering word-of-mouth and strengthening our reputation.
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| partem claram semper aspice |
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Passodue research on issues related to sales, marketing, ethics and the centrality of human beings within the market logic, officially started in 2012. The results derived from our work are described in the publications and in the books you can find in this section.
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