Marketing Leadership: Word of Mouth Marketing & Customer Retention

Kara Redoutey, MBA

What are the barriers to doing this?

It is easy to comment and converse when the customer is complimenting your organization, but many leaders can fall prey to defending their organization when a customer is less than satisfied. Leaders want to make all customers happy, so they may make promises that they can’t keep or say they will solve the problem that may not have a simple solution. Leaders may want to join in on conversations for which they have no part in joining. We talked about word of mouth marketing being most effective in reaching your circle of influence and with people who know and trust you.  Joining in on a stranger’s conversation may not have the impact that you want.

What is the case for doing it anyway?

In face-to-face word of mouth marketing, you may encounter many different perspectives, but if handled correctly, these organizational conversations can lead to higher customer retention and new customer acquisition.  If someone is sharing a negative experience with your organization to you in public, by showing empathy and asking if you can have someone at your organization follow up with them, reasonable folks will be left with the belief that your organization cares about its customers. Responding appropriately gives your organization the upper hand by showing the public that you are willing to listen to customers to help ensure the next customer doesn’t have a negative experience.  You may be able to retain the customer who had a negative experience and other potential customers who have been listening may choose your organization because of your response.  If you had jumped in on a conversation for which you weren’t invited, you may have appeared defensive no matter what.  If you had tried to argue or responded uncomfortably to the customer, you wouldn’t have this wonderful opportunity to retain customers to your organization and attract new ones. 

How can you do it?

  1. Make Connections.  Connect the customer with customer service representatives.  Connect the customer with an expert in the area for which they are interested. Connect the customer with information sources where they can learn more, such as the organization’s web site or Facebook page.
  2. Be positive.  You want the last thing that people hear to be positive and helpful.  Don’t end a conversation on a negative note if you can help it.
  3. Be empathetic. Be kind and understanding. Your customers’ perceptions are their reality.  The best way for you to help them further is to connect them with someone at your organization who can help.

How have you been an advocate for your organization  lately?

2 Responses to “Marketing Leadership: Word of Mouth Marketing & Customer Retention”

Kendall L. Stewart January 5th, 2014 at 5:43 pm

I agree that it is best to approach the unhappy customer privately unless he approaches me directly with his complaint. No matter how I hear about the problem, my first task is to acknowledge and accept his feelings. Then I apologize for what happened how he feels. Next, I offer to have the appropriate SOMC leader contact him. Effective word-of-mouth marketing depends on sincerity, particularly when I am trying to solve a patient complaint

It is a given that some customers will never be satisfied enough to not complain, but this can be a great thing. An unsatisfied customer will be quick to share what the organization is doing wrong, it does not, however, identify what you should do next. As a leader of an organization, you want the first person that hears the complaint to be a member of your team. How you react and handle the negative feedback will set the pace for healing the relationship and retaining the customer.

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