Every year, Google owns the “April Fools Tech Pranks” vertical. They continually create elaborate pranks like the #ChromeSelfie that take the internet by storm, again proving that “Content is King” but with the cherry on top: they didn’t have to create any of it.
User-Generated content is king.
Up until the last decade, businesses often lived by the rule that a bad customer interaction was likely to be shared ten times more often than one positive interaction. This ten-to-one rule dictated customer resolution strategy as well as process improvements.
The widespread use of social media and online review sites has radically changed the rules of the game. No longer can a business gauge the impact of a negative customer experience based on the “tried and true” ten to one rule. Digitalization of media and democratized access to online publications via review aggregators like Yelp, TripAdvisor, Google, Citysearch, YellowPages, and Foursquare has created a completely different ballgame for businesses and services of all types.
Organizations aiming to establish a strong reputation conducive to repeat business as well as customer base growth now need to take this into account. Luckily, this trend has also resulted in an increased likelihood of customers voicing positive opinions and sharing features of their interactions with products and services.
Opinions, bad and good, are read hundreds, if not thousands, of times! In some industries, the bulk of your traffic, referrals, and first exposure will not be based on a face-to-face interaction or a direct visit into your website. Instead, prospective customers will determine the potential benefits and risks of engaging with your product based on the opinions of others as shared on online media. Amid this radical change in how customer opinion is shared and the reach it can have, enterprise-level businesses face unique challenges when it comes to delivering consistency across multiple business units and using feedback to make changes, both at the local level and enterprise-wide. Here are a few:
Tackle Poor Performers
Protecting the reputation of your brand and taking quick action to correct negative trends is essential. Several studies indicate that one negative experience in a branch of any business unit will result in blanket opinion about the brand, affecting the perception of the impacted customer as well as all other potential customers exposed to the review. Their assumption may be incorrect but it will still affect business. If one unit is bad, all of the other units must be equally poor performing. Fix it and fix it quickly. Time is not on your side in this case.
Revisit Standards and Offerings
For enterprises with centralized purchasing, it is essential to keep track of trends affecting all units. If, for example, after a linen upgrade on pilot locations, a hotel chain begins to notice positive linen-specific reviews it is important to accelerate distribution to all units to standardize the customer experience. On the other hand, if the comments are negative, identifying the trends early will help you revisit strategy and seek out alternatives.
Consider Regional Variances and Cater Accordingly
While brand consistency is key in achieving loyalty and recognition, smart brands remain flexible, agile and willing to adapt their offering to the market. Monitoring online reviews will provide you with unique insights on how to cater to unit-specific needs. Thanks to customer feedback, a well-known restaurant chain was able to identify the need for kosher selections for their Brooklyn unit. Small tweaks aimed at optimizing how you serve a segment will not dilute your brand. Instead, you will be perceived as engaged and customer-focused.
(Check out: “5 Awesome Tips for Improving Customer Engagement”)
Align Your Brand Voice
Responses to customer engagement are incredibly important. As potential customers review your user-generated media, your timeliness in engagement will speak volumes of your brand commitment to quality. If centralizing your responses is not possible, create brand standards to ensure all customers receive the same level of care and brand messaging, as well as ensuring that remedial actions are consistent. Inconsistency on how brands engage with customers across units often results in decreased credibility.
Recording customer perception and placing emphasis on goods or services most valued by past customers will help you make decisions on future offerings. Trend tracking, if done well, will not only help you increase brand loyalty but can also result in significant savings as you prioritize budget allocations.
Leading corporations have thrived in the digital era because of their willingness to leverage business intelligence and apply findings with a deep sense of customer commitment. Failure to listen and act accordingly will, without question, result in negative brand perception. Don’t ignore this important facet of your business.