Word of mouth is a two-way street!

65978187 Let’s face it, stories about shoddy service, a product that flopped or a clerk who was the epitome of rude make much better stories than when things go well.  It's basic human nature.

When was the last time you heard about good hospital food? I rest my case!

We all know the power of word of mouth advertising, but what do you do when your customers are telling stories you’d rather not have seep beyond your door?

The best defense is to clearly communicate that your business wants to hear when things don’t go according to plan.  Let them tell you, rather than 137 of their closest friends. 

  • Offer satisfaction guarantees. 
  • Always ask, at the end of a transaction, if the client is happy with the results. 
  • Do follow up contacts, by phone or mail to verify that the customer is still satisfied.  
  • Point blank ask if they would refer you to their friends or colleagues.

Of course, you can do all of those things, but if you don’t actually listen and respond to concerns and complaints – don’t add insult to injury by asking.  That just makes for a better story.

Look around your business.  Check your invoices and receipts.  Re-read your “welcome” letters or official business literature.  If you were a brand new client – would you immediately recognize that your business was open to hearing complaints?

Take steps today to make your business one that encourages grumbling, grousing, complaining and whining. 

Not only will you stop the viral spreading of the bad story but you’ll probably improve the buying experience for all your customers and generate more of that good word of mouth you’re hoping for!

How do you currently ask for feedback?  What's the most creative/compelling tactic for getting feedback that you've experienced?

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9 comments on “Word of mouth is a two-way street!

  1. Blog Expert says:

    Word-of-mouth has definitely helped me. It’s just a matter if there’s something going good for you or bad for you. You always help the something is going good because people will help you by letting others know about it. However, it will also let people know about it if there’s something bad going on with your product or web site.

  2. Pickle says:

    My favorite feedback device is the customer survey that you get on your receipt (the Gap uses this method). Whenever you make a purchase, you can fill out an online survey and get a certain percentage (I think 20%?) off your next purchase or one item.

    If I’m shopping there, I’ll often try to find 2 items: One to buy immediately and one to pick up later, after I get my coupon code.

    The main thing missing from this feedback device, however, is any feeling of accomplishment. Who reads these surveys? No one has ever followed up when I’ve sung the praises of a specific sales associate or made a complaint.

  3. Chris O. says:

    “Point blank ask if they would refer you to their friends or colleagues.”

    Good idea Drew. I feel inspired.

  4. 23Kazoos says:

    People want to have relationships with people they do business with. They will spread the word when they feel like you care.

  5. Ed Moriarty says:

    I was recently uninstalling Google Chrome from my computer when a prompt came up that read “Was it something we said.” I thought it was a such a clever and simple way to ask for feedback. It almost made me feel guilty.

    I wanted to say “No Google Chrome, it’s not you, it’s me, my computer has been infected with malicious viruses that are trying to tear us apart, and when I figure this out we will be together again.” I wasn’t even that impressed with the browser, but because it cared enough to ask me how I felt, I almost feel obligated to give it another chance.

  6. Ed,

    It sounds like they took a very low key, conversational approach. Very different from the feedback forms and other conventions we’re more used to.

    Do you think it was that they asked…or how they asked that triggered your guilt?


  7. Blog Expert (as I like to call you),

    Yes…it’s great to hear the good feedback. But in terms of how your business runs — it’s even better to hear the bad feedback so you can make corrections.

    Far better to endure the pain of hearing that you need to fix something….than to have the same problem alienate customers day after day.


  8. Pickle,

    You raise a very good point. It feels fruitless to provide feedback if there isn’t a way for the company to close the loop.

    Even if they put an survey update/response on their web page — that would give you some sense of having a conversation as opposed to a one way communication.


  9. Chris,

    So, did you give it a try?


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