On the internet, consumers can heavily influence a brand faster and more effectively than the organization itself. More and more people using places like Facebook, Yelp, Google Places, and other sharing platforms to tell others about their experience.
In some cases this is good for businesses. Just as the traditional “word of mouth” traveled from neighbor to neighbor, the same sentiment now travels from friend to friend in the online space. The difference is that today the news travels much faster. The bad news is the “bad news”.
Today’s online consumers now have the power to communicate to such a large audience that it can no longer be overlooked. This creates a significant amount of leverage for the everyday consumer.
How do you manage this you ask? The answer is simple, LISTEN! In many cases, consumers are mad because the person they were dealing with just didn’t listen to them.
Businesses cant afford to ignore the requests of their consumers. In fact, listening can often be helpful and provide new insights and ideas. Look at how Starbucks has found a way to leverage consumer opinion and ideas, “My Starbucks Idea”. Did you know that the green coffee stopper was a customer’s idea?
Customer sentiment can be damaging as well.Heather Armstrong, better known as Dooce, had bad experience with Maytag. After several frustrating phone calls and interactions with Maytag, Heather decided to share her experience with her 1.6 million plus followers on Twitter.
You can read more about how social media influenced the whirlpool brand in this Forbes article. The lesson here is that you no longer know who may influence your brand positively or negatively. Learn how to leverage positive sentiment to grow your business and how to manage negative feedback to extinguish a viral “smash” to your brand.