Let your Customers do your PR for you

9 years, 7 months ago


Allowing customers a platform from which to voice their opinions about you can be daunting. However, reviews and recommendation have a massive impact on buying behaviour, says Crispin Manners.

It may seem odd to recommend that you should let your customers do the talking for you. It doesn’t quite fit the image of a business agonising over the best choice of words for a press release, statement or customer case study. But today’s social media filled world – whether you use it or not – has brought to the fore the foundation of good PR: trust.

And the fact is that most people would rather trust the recommendation of a friend or indeed consumers they don’t know, than any other source of information. In fact Nielsen research http:// http://bit.ly/9e5Lwb shows that 90% of us trust recommendations from people they know and 70% trust recommendations from people they don’t. Furthermore, the 2010 Social Shopping study http://bit.ly/cKaTUy shows that consumers rate user-generated reviews as the source of information having the highest impact on their buying behaviour. A massive 49% say they would leave a retail site if it doesn’t have user reviews!

That may be fine for online retailers but what if you’re a B2B company? The reality is that business buyers are also consumers. You can’t separate the man from the manager. So the same basic trust rules apply. If you don’t trust your customers to say positive things about you, why would future customers trust you enough to spend their hard-earned cash with you?

Remember, 80% of searches for a product or service now begin with a web search. So if you haven’t built up your trust quotient with customer comment you may be turning away business without knowing it.

Isn’t a review just like a case study?

The key difference between a review and a case study is that you write a case study and have control over exactly what you write, but a review is written in the customer’s own words and you have no right of edit. While it is likely to include a customer quote, a case study rarely contains the clarity of context that a customer will include in their own review.

You see, customers understand context. They know that the same restaurant will deliver a different experience to a young couple than it will for a family with two hyperactive kids. It is this context, and the fact that reviews will often include some objective commentary that a marketer would never include in a case study, that makes reviews so trusted.

Won’t I risk bad reviews being seen?

This is an excellent question as it gets to the heart of why customers would buy in the first place. If you are worried there would be too many negative reviews, then maybe you need to improve your product or service before you invest money in traditional PR programmes.

The other thing to realize is that what is a negative experience for some customers could actually be a positive experience for others. For example, if a hotel review says it’s the perfect luxury destination but 40 minutes from the nearest night life, it might switch off party animals but attract those keen on a relaxing stay. In other words, reviews can actually reduce your cost of sale by attracting customers that you have the greatest potential to satisfy.

How do I find advocate customers?

If you want to find out how likely you are to receive positive reviews before you enable customers to put them directly on your website, then there is one question you could ask – the Net Promoter* question. How likely are they to recommend you on a scale of 0-10? If you have more people giving you 9 and 10 than 0-6 then you know that the balance of recommendability is in your favour.

This exercise will also provide a list of customers who you know want to recommend you. If you invite them to be the first to write a review in your new reviews section, you will reinforce their advocacy levels and trigger the desire to talk about you to their friends.

Should I expect hundreds of reviews?

Much depends on the size of your customer base but you should remember that about 90% of people consume online content rather than create it. And you should also note that about nine times more word of mouth takes place offlinehttp://bit.ly/9UDj7C than online. So the trusted content you enable online can deliver trusted conversations about you offline.

But you won’t need hundreds of reviews to build up trust in you. The mere fact that you have the confidence to be totally transparent is the critical factor in demonstrating that you are worthy of trust.

And as trust is the foundation of good PR, the trust advantage that this simple step provides will pay dividends that you can leverage in all your communications activities. .

*Net Promoter is a registered trademark of Satmetrix Systems, Inc, Bain & Company and Fred Reichheld


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The Author

Crispin Manners

Crispin Manners is Chief Executive of Onva Consulting and Chairman of The Employee Engagement Alliance.

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