October 2015

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Let Your Customers' Voices Drive Your Business

“Just how powerful is the influence of the internet on purchasing decisions, and the answer is –Huge”.

Manny MandrusiakManny Mandrusiak,
Managing Creative Consultant,
4 Bravo Marketing

Contributing Editor

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We live in an interesting time.  A time that is fast and furious, where the internet dominates our lifestyles and has a direct influence on global political events.  Just look at the current events in Europe with the Syrian refugees.  Facebook Founder Mark Zuckerberg wants to drop internet connections into camps, and refugee collection points, to provide people with the ability to communicate with family back in Syria.  The internet has become more than just a means of communication thanks to smartphones.  It has now become one of the primary tools that we all use everyday to communicate, conduct business, and even to learn new skills.

Wi-Fi connections are available in almost every store, and restaurant we see because customers want the ability to have interactive experiences when they are out.  Ask yourself how many times you have been in a restaurant and seen someone taking a picture of their meal with a smartphone and giving the restaurant a review right then and there.  An instant thumbs up, or thumbs down, for the customer’s restaurant experience that is instantly sent to their entire network.

The question that companies will then ask is “Just how powerful is the influence of the internet on purchasing decisions, and the answer is –Huge”.  If you are a company that produces physical products then you absolutely need to be invested hugely in an online presence.  What I mean by that is that your product needs to be able to be compared on a smartphone to one actually sitting in front of someone.  Customer 2.0 (I talked about the evolution of Customer 2.0 in a previous article) is a shopper that does research before they make a purchase, and that research is just not limited to their personal shopping habits.  They want to read Google Reviews, and see what page rankings are.  What have customers had to say about this product and company?  Has there been anything negative online about this company?

Anyone watching the news will tell you that Volkswagen sales are poised to take a huge downturn given the recent emissions scandal.  The marketing team at Volkswagen is going to have to come up with some pretty creative damage control to help strengthen the brand after this.  A difficult, but not impossible thing to recover from,.  One of this things about the internet is that it is evolving and it favours positions of apology from companies as the social engagement created by response to negative issues sometimes gains more brand awareness than positive feedback.  Everyone makes mistakes, it is how those mistakes are dealt with that can either be extremely beneficial to building a company’s reputation, or extremely damaging.

Now a service industry is in a little different position in the online world as customers are now not comparing properties of a thing, but of a “how”.  How are the services of a particular company different from another?  A product can always add another feature, but when you are comparing a service to a service there are a lot more factors to leverage. These can be:

  1. Location
  2. Price
  3. Types of service
  4. Hours
  5. Satisfaction guarantees policy, just to name a few.

Marketing pros can capitalize on all of these things to promote a service and that means that they can get more creative.  Customer reviews also become a larger part of how people compare a service online because they can severely tip the Google rankings of one site over another.

If we were to consider two men’s barber shops in roughly the same geographic area competing for the same customers and look at their websites together the first couple things that pop out are: customer reviews, location, and price. One site may have 20 customer reviews and the other may only have 5.  Naturally the barbershop with 20 reviews must provide better service?  Not necessarily true. People initially just glance at how many reviews there are rather than the actual content of the reviews when comparing service industries.

contemporary If you are a systems integrator who has a great online presence with a complete presence (reviews, google local page) your business is more likely to be searched and shared compared to your competitors.  Customer 2.0 wants to be active and interactive and feel that they are contributing to the success of a business that they like. For these customers it is all about the experience of being able to feel that they contributed and that their voice was heard.  So make sure that they can be heard talking about your business.  What better source of advertising could you have?

In short, one of the best ways to drive your business on the internet is by providing opportunities for your customers to use their voice.  You never know what good things that they have to say.


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