In the world of marketing, word of mouth is still king.
It can make or break your business. This is especially true with the advent of social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, where people can instantly share their thoughts and feelings with hundreds and sometimes thousands of friends.
People are very fond of complaining and will happily complain about anything to anyone who will listen.
If a customer has a bad experience with your business, and they tell their family and friends, how many customers did you lose? Scary to think about, isn't it?
On the other hand, if you go above and beyond your customer's expectations and deliver an outstanding customer experience, then you will gain many new customers through positive word of mouth.
What can you do as a business to ensure that you consistently deliver a good customer experience? Here are some tips:
* Make sure you respond to all email inquiries as soon as possible. One of the greatest annoyances customers have with customer service is having to wait a long time for a response.
Try to respond to every email your business gets within one business day. If you don't have time to respond personally, hire a rep to do it for you.
* Stay in touch with your customers via email and social media. If at all possible, personalize your correspondence (such as including their name in promotional emails and sending birthday cards). Technology makes this easy and cheap to do, and it is much more meaningful to your customers.
* Develop a mobile website. In a survey by Compuware, 57 percent of mobile users said they would not recommend a business with a poor mobile website. With the rise of the smartphone consumer, it's more important than ever to ensure your website is accessible on as many devices as possible.
* Hold a contest on your website. It's a great short-term viral marketing strategy, and can quickly build up Web traffic to your site.
Contests are fun for your customers because they are competitive events, which are made more fun when their friends participate. Your customers will associate that positive experience with your business, which will lead to more positive word of mouth.
* Ask your customers how you're doing. Listening to feedback from your customers is one of the best ways you can improve your business, and it shows your customers that you care about what they think. Give them an incentive, such as a coupon, for answering a few questions about how you could do better.
Just be careful how you word your questions. If you put them the wrong way, your customers may end up giving you vague and unhelpful responses, or even worse, they may start finding reasons not to do business with you.
This list is by no means comprehensive. There are many other things you can do to improve your customer's experience with your business, both online and offline.
Just remember: The key to positive word of mouth is simply to exceed your customer's expectations.
Joshua Rigley is an online marketing consultant from Layton. He can be reached at email@example.com.