Long Live The Empowered Consumer
Viva La Customer Service!
It’s the beginning of 2018 and from an internet standpoint, most customers think all is right in the world. With the development of shipping drones and next day postage, the average consumer is very pleased to have options at their fingers tips when it comes to choosing which product or service is best for them. In addition, customers are more in control by having the power to alleviate what they don’t want to see with a swipe, tap or click. But what does that mean for local small to medium businesses?
From new ventures to tenured businesses, companies are realizing that even the sales and marketing strategies from 10 years ago are ineffective. It seems we as a culture are somewhat in a state of flux. We want experienced brands but also want to support our local communities. We need the dedicated support of large corporations but don’t want the run around of an ineffective CRM and lackluster customer profiles. We like being important to the companies we chose to give our business to but have problems with the turn around some small businesses provide.
From a consumer standpoint, what do we do?
The first thing most people do is use search engines to find reviews on companies from platforms like Google, Facebook, Angieslist & Yelp. In fact, 97% of consumers will look up product & service reviews before considering a purchase. So, what does this mean for me as a local company?
The answer is simple, you may indeed have a wonderful brand. Your respective product or service is highly regarded in the local community and word of mouth verifies that. That is an excellent starting point, however, if that does not resonate online you are not emitting what is considered “trust authority” to your non-connected or “cold” leads as they are more commonly referred to. With the development of the digital age taking hold strongly for the past decade since the release of the smartphone consumers finally feel empowered. This has reinvented (or re-established) the need for quality customer service and focusing on consumer management rather than constantly driving for new sales acquisitions which, in the past, has reverberated disdain.
When consumers are empowered, and larger companies are put in check, a unique opportunity is brought to those savvy small and medium business owners to capitalize. Say, for instance, if you have a client whose previous service was provided by a nationally known brand from a larger company. They were known by their account number whenever they called into customer service and never talked to the same person twice. Notes were taken on their account but things were often overlooked, mis-noted, or not noted at all causing frustration to the customer for having to repeat things multiple times to multiple people. A very common adage most are familiar with. Due to these frustrating constraints the customer finally looks for something more local. They, of course, go online and find perspective companies for what they are looking for and the first thing they do is start reading reviews. However, what is becoming a more common practice with many prospective customers is not looking at all the wonderful 5-star reviews a company has. Instead, they go straight to the 1-4 star to see what went wrong. A company could have 99 5-star reviews out of 100 and 1 1-star review. That 1-star review is going to get much more attention than any other review that company has.
Why is this?
The answer seems like common sense to most, people want to know what went wrong. Moreover, they want to know the statistical likelihood of a “break down” happening to them. However, the most important variable in subpar reviews is how your company followed through to fix it. Did you respond to the review? Was the issue handled quickly? Does there appear to be an effort on the side of the company to fix and alleviate what broke down with that interaction? We all know no system is perfect and every company makes mistakes, most people don’t mind those but the follow through on how your company fixes them is what is paramount. 95% of unsatisfied customers will return if they feel the issue was handled properly and quickly.
The same is true on the opposite side of the coin. The average consumer reads 4-10 reviews online before deciding. However, if a company has more then 4-5 negative reviews without proper follow through the potential conversion rate now drops by as much as 70%. Having these statistics shows a direct correlation with how an effectively managed online web presence is crucial in today’s marketplace.
Another worthwhile notation is how conversions are now acquired. More and more we are seeing the traditional ways of advertising (TV, Radio and Mail Ads) being much less effective. Here are some numbers that may surprise you:
According to HubSpot’s Global Interruptive Ads Survey conducted in 2016:
- 94% of all consumers actually skip television ads completely
- 69% of web users bounced from a site when presented with an interruptive display ad
- 27% throw away a direct mail piece before even reading it
- 50% are on the national do not call registry
Now, these are 2016 statistics so the projected downward curve for traditional marketing strategies is only going to continue. Unconfirmed but circulated projections show as much as 50% direct mail’s being discarded and a staggering 25% drop in cable tv subscriptions at the end of 2017. One final note is an astounding 47% of people under the age of 40 do not have cable tv at all.
Having all this information is great but what does it mean?
Simply put our culture is tired of being inundated with ads. When we want to buy something, we are much happier to research and make the decision ourselves based on proven merit rather than being solicited and inconvenienced. Moreover, what is highly speculated is customers are intentionally avoiding companies they notice are constantly soliciting them. A Freudian backlash, or so it seems, from frustrated generations being force-fed products and services they didn’t want do to the constraint of information mediums.
Knowing all this information simply means that companies large and small are going back to the drawing board to figure out effective ways to market and here’s the kicker. It’s the “old school” way of marketing that is making a resounding come back in this technologically advanced information age. Customers are more informed now about entire industries then they have ever been before. They vet and research to an amazing degree before ever making a phone call, purchasing a product or inquiring about a service. Ergo the best form of advertising, statistically & psychologically speaking, is to simply take care of the customer. Don’t treat them like a one-time sale, do your due diligence. Follow up with a phone call, send a personalized thank you letter, don’t refer to them on a tech or sales call by there account number, get to know your customer base again. Establishing lifelong relationships with your customer base is the healthiest and most sustainable form of any business. The expansion of the digital age has finally put the power back into the consumers’ hands and shown companies for what they really are, for better or worse. Remember, if you have a quality product, an effectively managed web presence, positive word of mouth, catered to customer service and good reviews you’ll be successful. So, take part of that advertising budget you had for this month and put it back into your client base we promise it works. Don’t believe us? Check out Guardian Designs Reviews for yourself and see.
By: Dan Richardson – Owner / Lead Developer of Guardian Designs