Who do you trust more when deciding on where to shop and what to buy: your friends and family or the hundreds of advertisements you see daily? For me, it’s a no-brainer. I value my friends’ and family’s opinions over anything an advertisement will try to lead me to believe.
This reasoning supports the statistic that word of mouth is two times more effective than advertising. According to a Customer Dissatisfaction Study from the Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA), “On average, U.S. shoppers tell four people about their negative experience, embellishing the story as they tell it.”
WOMMA considers word of mouth as the voice of the consumer relaying information about products, services or brands. As a consumer, I always express my opinions if I have a positive or negative experience within a store, but I had no idea how much of an impact I was making on a company and its reputation.
The customer study continues, “More than 50 percent of American shoppers say a negative shopping experience of a friend or co-worker will prevent them from setting foot in a store altogether.”
We are all influenced by our close family and friends, so how can companies combat the negative word-of-mouth phenomenon? First, companies need to be aware of the specific problematic issues their customers are facing and take control by fixing those problems to create positive word of mouth. Specifically, companies should utilize their public relations tactics to make the positive attributes of their products or services known to consumers to encourage positive word-of-mouth circulation.
Public relations practitioners can manage word of mouth with careful planning and techniques. Most importantly, companies need to focus on making consumers happier by simply listening to them. Targeting their complaints and concerns will allow companies to discover the root of the problem in order to address it properly.
by Ashley Ross