Brand loyalty is strengthened when a business reacts promptly to negative customer feedback and does their best to rectify the problem, says Robert Viljoen. It also helps mitigate the disasterous effects of word of mouth gone horribly wrong. Glenda Nevill reports.
“Traditional forms of marketing are all about what a company believes they are and the image that they consequently portray to the outside world. It is therefore not a true representation of the company. With word of mouth (WOM) potential clients hear the real story, the naked truth about the true service levels of the company and what can be expected when dealing with a certain business or service provider,” says Viljoen on Vavavox.
Viljoen is a WOM believer, saying “businesses don’t have to spend money on television adverts, radio spots or expensive once-off billboards, which is enormously costly. He believes the way to become noticed is through “the simplest, most organic advertising method of them all: word of mouth. Unbiased, unfettered, peer-to-peer communication”.
Viljoen says WOM marketing is effective in all industries. “People prefer business providers they trust. If someone you trust recommends a provider or business, you automatically trust that referral even before the service is delivered,” he says. “Our statistics show that services that are urgently needed, but not used frequently, are the most conducive to WOM marketing. It is actually quite logical – if you use service often, you’ll already have sifted through various providers to get to the one you prefer. When you don’t use a service frequently, you’ll tend to search the internet for help, or ask a friend, and this is where WOM is the most effective.”
He says it also enables tradesmen and entrepreneurs to “focus on their attributes and grow their business without wasting time and money on marketing that offers no value”.
“Traditional marketing favours tradesmen that are perhaps less skilled, but who come prepared with a smooth marketing pitch. WOM marketing, on the other hand, favours the skilled tradesman who is proud and passionate about service delivery,” he says.
Viljoen says online WOM is the way of the future. “It not only gives social media purpose, but it is also cost effective and gives real time solutions. It levels the playing field by enabling small businesses, new start-ups and established businesses to compete against one another on a level where service delivery and customer care, rather than the marketing budget, determines the marketing success,” he explains.
“People are more likely to believe someone close to them because there is already a foundation of trust in place between that company and that person you know and trust.”
Negative feedback is an issue and one of the most frequent questions posed by business owners. “Well, the answer is quite simple,” says Viljoen. “People are already talking about your business, so isn’t it better to know what they are saying, instead of just pretending not to care?
“If a business does not ask for feedback, statistics have shown that consumers or customers then use the internet as a complaint platform as a last resort to express their frustration with the hope that it will lead to some sort of change or compensation. This is often unfair towards the business as it might be an isolated incident or a misunderstanding. On the other hand, if a business asks for feedback, customers do take the time to share their experiences. This enables a business to build a real online “profile” that reflects not only misunderstandings, but also all the relevant compliments,” he asys.
His company research shows that more than 93% of the feedback submitted to subscribed businesses (businesses that promote feedback) is positive. Compare that to business that have not yet subscribed, where only 29% of the feedback is positive, he says.
Robert Viljoen is MD of Vavavox. Follow on Twitter @vavavox
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