Consumer generated content has long since been a digital Pandora’s Box, the veritable soap box for testimonials, reviews, customer service outreach and even rants. When the message is positive and supportive, good news can travel fast, when it’s negative, bad news will travel even faster.
And while brand transparency is good for consumerism, how does a century old company who painstakingly has built its reputation with one to one personal connections insulate itself from the potential single unsatisfied customer from tarnishing its good name online?
First, a reality check – every single business has had more than one unsatisfied customer. Period. Consumers by and large recognize that no company—large or small, public or private—can satisfy everyone, all of the time. The difference however lies between reality and what a potential customer perceives, and reads.
Review websites such as Yelp, CityGrid, Insider Pages and Merchant Circle, as well as the growing list of service directories which compile consumer ratings of local service companies such as Consumer Reports and Angie’s List, all thrive on peer to peer referrals and reviews.
“New Cone research reveals 80% consumers have changed their minds about purchasing a recommended product or service based solely on negative information they found online. This is up from just 67% of consumers who said the same in 2010. Online information, a trustworthy source for 89% of consumers, has the power to make or break a product recommendation, concludes the report.
Positive information has a similar effect on decision making, with 87% of consumers agreeing a favorable review has confirmed their decision to purchase. But, negative information is gaining traction and is now just as powerful in tipping the scales against a recommended purchase.”
While most brands have attended to the business of promoting themselves online, many are left exposed and unaware of what is being said about them across review websites, blogs and throughout social networks. With 64% of consumers seeking out user reviews before deciding to purchase, knowing the sentiment about a brand is vital, remember what they say about one bad apple.
|Before Deciding To Purchase (% of Respondents)|
|Go Online To:||2010||2011|
|Research product/service information||61%||69%|
|Search for consumer or user reviews||55||64|
|Search for the product/service on ratings websites
(e.g., Consumer Reports, Angie’s List, Yelp!)
|Search for opinions from product/service experts||38||43|
|Read articles or blog posts about the product/service||28||42|
|Solicit opinions from their social network(s)||10||12|
|Source: Cone Trend Tracker, August 2011|
If the best defense is a good offense, here are a few ways to get in the game:
Finally, give outrageously great customer service, in the end isn’t that what this is all about?