Article -> Branding by Word of Mouth
Date Added: August 2006
Customer referrals are on the mind of many leaders, or at least they should be. A recent study indicated that 55% of organizations are not committed to customers, but rather treat customers as a means to an end.¹ Most organizations don’t understand the value their customers hold for their success. In fact, customers have the power to increase your brand value – or destroy it.
Customers that will recommend your products/services can be referred to as Most Valuable Customers (MVCs), while customers that go out of their way to tell others not to do business with you are called value detractors. Your MVCs are your customers that have behaviors and buying patterns that provide value to your organization both now and in the future.²
Word of mouth is the most powerful tool customers have. Organizations are encouraged to ask their customers: Would you recommend this product/service to others? The answer to this question will determine the general reputation of your organization. Customers base their value about your organization from their last experience with your brand. You want your customers to have a great experience – and word of mouth is a powerful marketing tool.
A trap that some organizations fall into; however, is only focusing on MVCs. For example, Netflix gave their valued customers (those that frequently rented from them) the pick of the “hot” movies first. Their infrequent customers took their place in line and were given a lower priority for these “hot” movies. As infrequent customers discovered blogging, they let everyone know about how unfairly they were being treated, and spread the word to not do business with Netflix. Netflix fell victim to negative word of mouth and was caught up defending their organization. It only takes one customer to turn your customer strategy and brand reputation into a problem.
Tactics such as corporate blogs, questionnaires, charity-based marketing activities, etc. can help increase complete customer satisfaction. Unique Business Solutions uses a process called Voice of the Customer. The process helps identify customers’ needs by identifying, measuring, communicating and implementing what your customers really want.
Most organizations will say they know what their customers want; however, research has shown that most do not. When your customers talk, do you know what they are saying? While it is important to pay special attention to your MVCs, it is equally important to value all customers in your organizational strategy – to avoid falling into a trap. Listen to the voice of your customers to keep them completely satisfied; increasing your profitability and success.
¹Fielding, Michael. “Customer is King – Says Who?” Strativity Group Inc. April 15, 2006.
²Peppers, Don and Martha Rogers, Ph.D. “Word of Mouth: Boon or Bane?” 1 to 1 Magazine. April 2006.