The balance of power in marketing relationships has experienced two significant shifts in the past 20 years. First, it was retailers gaining the upper hand with manufacturers as massive retail chains wielded great buying power. More recently, the power has shifted from retailers and manufacturers to consumers. The empowerment made possible by the Internet gives us more information about sellers and their products than ever before.
A great example of how the power is squarely in the hands of consumers is the ability to post user reviews and descriptions of experiences with products or services online. A recent survey by the Society for New Communications Research found that nearly 75% of persons it surveyed choose brands or companies in part because of what they learn from user reviews online. More than 80% of those surveyed believe online communication mediums like user review web sites and blogs give them a greater voice.
The value consumers place on gathering and sharing information online must not be lost on marketers trying to attract and retain customers. Positive word-of-mouth simply cannot be bought; let your customers be your top salespeople! On the flip side, if you are failing customers in some way, is it not critical that you know that? Why would you want to suppress input from the people who you believe should be purchasing your offerings? Of course you would not deliberately set out to block needed feedback. But, many consumers believe that companies do not want to hear their opinions as only 33% of the persons surveyed by SNCR believe companies "...take customers' opinions seriously."
You can learn a great deal about what customers think about you without conducting complex marketing research. Just encourage them to talk... and then listen! Link
Labels: Customer Service