Word-of-mouth marketing is highly valued because of its power to bring in new customers without the expense of paid media. It’s also one of the most credible forms of marketing since people tend to trust recommendations made by their friends and family. Once limited to in-person conversations and phone calls, word-of-mouth marketing now has a much broader reach thanks to social media and online product reviews.
It’s important to note that word-of-mouth marketing should never be faked or invented; attempting this is unethical and can backlash against the brand and damage a company’s reputation. Businesses can, however, take steps to foster the level of excitement and confidence necessary to get customers to recommend them.
What can your business do to help trigger positive comments about your products and services? It all boils down to providing a customer experience that goes far and beyond what’s expected. Just slightly exceeding expectations isn’t enough. You must truly go the extra mile if you want customers to freely recommend your business to others. Here are some proven techniques to consider:
- Create special spaces. Some businesses make themselves unforgettable through distinctive buildings or spaces. One dramatic example is the erupting volcano outside the Mirage in Las Vegas. But this principle can be employed on a simpler scale- such as a very comfortable and well-furnished waiting room at a car repair shop or a restaurant located in a former schoolhouse or factory.
- Provide memorable experiences. The tossing of fresh fish from one employee to another at Pike Place Market in Seattle is a famous example of a business that offers customers a unique shopping adventure. Other examples include the hotel that passes out freshly baked chocolate chip cookies to guests, the electrician that offers to do a free safety inspection of each customer’s home, or the retail store that follows up major purchases by sending a handwritten thank you note.
- Be thoughtful and generous. Businesses with a strong customer-service culture are proactive and look for ways to deliver even more than the customer expects. Perhaps this means staying late to help a customer meet a tight deadline, patiently explaining how to use new technology, offering a toy or snack to a mother with a fussy child, or sending a book or article to a client that you think they’d enjoy reading.
When it’s common to over-deliver to new customers, the key to success is to exceed expectations consistently, for all customers in all areas of interaction, over the long haul.