It might be a natural reaction in these difficult economic times to think that customers are only making spending decisions based on price. Customers are actually looking for value. Customers weigh three main components when defining value:
1) The ability of your product or service to address a need
2) Trust in your company
Without trust in your company, anything else about your products and services doesn’t matter. Without trust in your company, a dissatisfied customer will communicate her unhappy experience to others. The 2009 Edelman Trust Barometer describes a radical shift in consumers’ trust in businesses. These findings from Edelman give one pause: “Among our global audience of 25-to-64-year-olds, being able to trust a company is one of the most important factors in determining a companys reputation. In the past year, 91% of 25-to-64-year-olds around the world indicated they bought a product or service from a company they trusted, and 77% refused to buy a product or service from a distrusted company.”
Today consumers leave comments on forums, blogs and mainstream media websites to tell others about their experiences with your company. Interestingly, Edelman reports more 25-to-64-year-olds leave positive online comments about companies, vs. negative comments (42% vs. 34%). All customers (whether they are satisfied or dissatisfied) need to be appreciated for their unique insights. The key is to not wait for customers to come to you. You have to seek them out and include them in the development of your products and services.
Many companies don’t know how to engage with customers. Conversations about products and services are ongoing and companies need to tap into these customer conversations to not only discover what’s being said, but to also address customers’ needs. If someone is unhappy that you don’t sell a blue widget, then you need to find out why they want a blue widget, and if it is in your company’s ability to provide this product. The main point is to actively and genuinely desire customer contact, and to join these conversations where customers gather online. NSI Partners’ ReputationConnect reputation monitoring service can help companies assess their online reputations and develop customer engagement strategies. Edelman offers this call to action for 2009: Business has had the benefit of the doubt for 25 years. It must now re-earn the mantle of authority by restoring the confidence that has been so widely lost. Companies that answer this call can simultaneously gain a competitive edge and increase customer satisfaction.