Tuesday, October 18, 2011

WOMOW Re-Launching as Word Of Mouth Online - WOMO!

We have an announcement to make...WOMOW is about to become WOMO - Word Of Mouth Online! We'll soon be rolling out some changes that give us a new name and a brand new look.

Why? We've learned that two W's in a word is one too many and we're sick to death of people getting the name wrong! So we've shortened our name to Word Of Mouth Online Pty Ltd or WOMO - which is exactly what we're all about. We're now leaner, cleaner and with a lot more spunk.

Check out our new logo below...
We hope you'll agree that our new look is much more current and professional. We're sticking with the distinctive orange (that most of you love and a few of you hate), and in the process, we're introducing some new features to improve the experience for both members and businesses.

Check out our new home page below:

In this process, we've taken on board the feedback that we've received from many businesses and made quite a lot of improvements. For instance, businesses using WOMO's Happy Customers Program will be able to;
  • Control first impressions by choosing your favourite review to appear first
  • Include incentives on Review-Us Flyers to encourage more reviews (a sure fire way to drive more reviews)
  • Feature your Deals or Special Offers throughout the WOMO website where people are looking for businseses like yours. These will appear on your Cross Advertising which will be more prominent.
  • Access re-styled, re-vamped flyers, stickers and certificates to promote your business.
  • Have a much cleaner, more professional looking profile with more images and less WOMO branding. It's a real "Brag Page" you can use to let the world know how great your business really is! See an example of a new profile below:

Don't worry - all of your existing links will still work. We'll also send you more details in the next few days.

If you've ever thought of joining the Happy Customers Program, it's now better than ever!

This new site is something we've been working on for a while so we're very excited to release it to you. And if you notice anything that seems strange or in error, please let us know. (We're all about customer feedback - literally!)

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Can Businesses Review Themselves?

This post has been moved to www.womo.com.au

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Why Advocates Recommend Brands: What's in it for the reviewer?

Let's face it, the holy grail of marketing is positive word-of-mouth. Particularly when it's online.

Why? Because when word-of-mouth is online it has a FAR greater reach as the internet serves as an amplifier to reach significantly larger audiences. Did you realise that over 80% of all purchases start with a search on the internet, AND 78% of consumers trust online recommendations above ALL other marketing and advertising? (Nielsen research)

All good and well, but how do you get some customer love? Why would anyone bother recommending your business? Thankfully the researchers at Comscore, Yahoo! have recently given some attention to this question. Because the facts are that plenty of people ARE talking about businesses and brands they love - all the time. So what's motivating them to do it?

Looking down this list, there is a fair amount of altruistic behaviour - people actually want to help good businesses and inform others of the information they know.

There's also some ego-drivers here - evidence that people like to be seen as the influencers and sources of information and advice for others. Nothing wrong with that! In fact, that's what defines the "advocates" or "key influencers" for your business.

So business owners...what can you actually do with this information? Appeal to these natural drivers, that's what!
  • Let customers know how much reviews help other people (how happy they are when they find a great business, and by helping them avoid bad experiences)
  • Let customers know how much reviews help your business, and how much you appreciate anyone that reviews you (you won't sound desperate, you'll sound honest)
  • Let customers know that literally thousands and thousands of people are using reviews everyday to help them make decisions (Australian's refer to WOMOW for advice about 25,000 times a day!)

Plus, check out our 12 Tips for Getting More Customer Reviews here...

Source: Yahoo / ComScore Networks study

Monday, September 19, 2011

Domino's Pizza Shows Reviews at Times Square, New York

Taking transparency to new heights, Domino's Pizza chain recently ran an enormous advertisement out of its customer reviews.

Customers loved seeing their reviews displayed and more importantly, Domino's showed the world that they are serious about listening to customers and providing a great experience.

The campaign was part of a turnaround following poor feedback about their pizzas and effectively communicated the subsequent improvements they made. The reviews were filtered for language, but not for sentiment. Domino’s spokesman Chris Brandon says about 80% of the feedback on the billboard was positive.

While this campaigning is somewhat extreme, it does show just how influencial top marketers believe reviews to be. For most businesses a live billboard is out of the question, but are you showing your reviews on your website*? On Facebook or other social media (why not post updates/tweet about each new review)? In your quotes / proposals? As part of your email signature?

Consider how you can get more leverage from your positive reviews...

*In case you missed it, WOMOW has a widget to display a live feed of your reviews on your website. See an example here and email us for your unique code (it's just a single line of code you add to your website).

A Strong Online Presence is Fuelling our Growth

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Please click here to find it!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Why Word-of-Mouth Online Works

Many small businesses we speak to are somewhat daunted by terms like 'word-of-mouth online' and 'online reputation'. Or they think it's not relevant for them. Or they know that word-of-mouth is powerful, but don't know how this relates to their own marketing activities.

Before you flick the page thinking this is not for you, word-of-mouth marketing does NOT need to be a kooky stunt / viral video / give away product / or even an amazing campaign. Instead, it can simply be a consistent effort to get people talking about your business - and in the case of online word-of-mouth - doing that talking online.

In my mind, word-of-mouth marketing is undoubtedly the most powerful way for small and medium businesses to build a great reputation (by the way, this is what big business calls 'their brand'). It's a substitute for spending large amounts of money on mainstream media to generate awareness and preference for your business.

If you think about it, online word-of-mouth is perfect for most businesses. Let's break it down;

Question 1: Where is your market looking?
Answer: The Internet.

In fact, Neilsen Netratings research found that more than 80% of all purchases for goods and services start with a search on the internet, for both home and business! Did you realise that people are using the internet to find hairdressers, plumbers, mechanics, restaurants, online shops, accountants, travel destinations, dry cleaners, wedding services, doctors, gardeners, childcare - YES EVERYTHING! Even if you don't turn to the internet for everything, there's a good chance many of your target market does.
Adam Adler from ADM Motors quipped: "I never thought that so many people would be looking online for a mechanic or that customer reviews could make such a difference – boy was I wrong! We provide a good service and it means that the extra care we take is paying off."
Obviously the internet is not the only place people look, but most business owners vastly underestimate the number of people searching online for their type of business.

Question 2:
Who do they trust?
Answer: Other consumers.

This is why it is soooo important to build up a glowing reputation online.

The researchers at Nielsen also found that: 78% of people trust consumer recommendations above ALL other types of advertising and marketing. And eMarketer found that: Consumer reviews are significantly more trusted -- nearly 12 times more -- than descriptions that come from businesses.

That's right. Reviews are more believable than advertising. Or, as one business put it: "When you tell people how good you are, it's bragging; when other people say it, it's proof." Plus, the more reviews there are, the more trust consumers place in them. At WOMOW, we see a 'tipping-point' at around 10 reviews.
Dee Davies from The Clear Skin Clinic explains that for their business; "Once [people] read what our customers say about our services, they feel like they’ve found the right place and make an appointment straight away."
And Chris Dimos from Mr Verandah concurs; "The people that come to Mr Verandah from WOMOW just want to go ahead straight away. They don't need to go through the whole trust-building stage as they already see us as experts in our field. Word-of-mouth is a really good way of marketing our business - it fits really well with our business philosophy of letting our work speak for itself."
Businesses that view online word-of-mouth as too hard or not relevant, are really missing out. When people's recommendations are online, they reach millions of people, and most importantly, they reach them at exactly the right time - when the prospective customer decides they need your type of business and starts their research online.
Even boring businesses can create great word-of-mouth!
If you're interested in generating online word-of-mouth for your business, check out our Happy Customers Program here.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Can Consumer Reviews be Trusted?

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> Please click here to find it <

Friday, August 26, 2011

Creating a Reviews Tab on your Facebook Page

Following our recent description of how Genius Printing had created a Reviews Tab on their Facebook page, we had several enquiries asking for detailed instructions on how to do this. So, if you want to create a page like this one, here's how...
  • Firstly you need to add a static HTML application to your business' Facebook page. There are lots that will do the job, but we used this one: http://www.facebook.com/add.php?api_key=190322544333196&pages
    Click to Add this to your Facebook page.

  • Next you need to change the name of this tab (the default name for this one is "Welcome"). To do this, go to the "Apps" menu option for your Facebook page, and find this app (called "Static HTML: iframe tabs"). Under this, click on "Edit Settings" and then change the Custom Tab Name to "Reviews" and click save.

  • Then click "View Page" to see your Facebook page. On the left, you'll now see your new "Reviews" tab as a menu item. Click the "EDIT" link just under this.

  • Next you need to add the content for this page. You can have different content for people that "like" your page, or the same content for everyone. (We just did the same content for everyone.) In the top box, enter the HTML, Javascript or other code for the content you wish to appear (could be an image as well).

  • To add the WOMOW Widget that scrolls through your reviews, you'll need to get your unique code for this from us. You can customise this as you please but the exact code that we entered is shown below:

  • Please note that the text in red here should specifically relate to your business listing on WOMOW. We also changed the width and height of the widget to be 500 x 300 (shown in the first red section).

  • Once you've done that, just click "Save and View Tab" at the top of the page. (While we were editing, we found it easier to open up the Facebook page in another browser and refresh this until we were happy with it.)

  • Good luck!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Marketing by the Numbers: A Case Study

Sorry, this blog update has moved.

>> Please click here to read this article <<

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Promoting your Reviews on Facebook

Does your business have a Facebook page? You could be using your WOMOW reviews to show your Facebook fans how important customer service is to your business. It's a great way to give people more confidence in your service and convert browsers into buyers.

That's exactly what Genius Printing has recently done. They've cleverly created a new "Reviews on WOMOW" page and loaded up their WOMOW Widget which automatically shows their recent reviews*.

They've also included the WOMOW Widget and "Review Us" button on the bottom of their webpages. Click here to see this.

“Imagine if on the door of every store, there was an LCD display showing the feedback from the last 5 customers. You would instantly be able to see what kind of service you're going to get,
before you even walk in the door,” Rob from Genius Printing says.

“Our business is built on customer service and we’ve always placed a high emphasis on collecting and displaying customer feedback. With WOMOW, we’re taking this a step further by having feedback at an independent site that's trusted by consumers.”

To encourage customers to leave reviews, Genius Printing are now offering a 10% discount voucher to customers that post their feedback on WOMOW. And to increase their exposure on WOMOW and give people an extra reason to choose them, on their WOMOW listing, Genius Printing have included a special offer for all new customers.

This is a fantastic example of customer feedback becoming a true integrated marketing program. (I guess they're not named "Genius" for nothing!)

Is your business integrating customer reviews into your marketing and promotions?

PS - Many businesses also use their new reviews as a chance to post something new up on their Facebook Wall. eg "Thanks so much for your feedback MarkS. So glad to hear you're enjoying your canvas prints. They certainly were stunning!" + link to the review.

* Genius Printing have created this page in Facebook using a static HTML app for facebook (of which there are lots). These apps allow you to create a custom tab, with standard HTML code. They've simply pasted in the WOMOW code for the Widget. You can also link to images on other sites and put standard text and other HTML in here.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Renew your Customer Focus: New Financial Year Resolutions

While other businesses are focussing on finalising accounts, setting targets, and reviewing expenses, we suggest that you turn your main attention to something that matters more than any of this - YOUR CUSTOMERS. Remember why you went into business in the first place? Most likely to serve customers and contribute something to society. And did you realise that the strongest predictor of a business' future success is their customer satisfaction levels? (Not how orderly their books are!)

Here are 7 things to start doing right now...

Understand the Lifetime Value of Each Customer
Don't worry about perfection but get a rough understanding of the;
  • Avg Order Value x
    No. Times Per Year a Customer Orders x
    No. Years a Customer Stays with You x
    Average Gross Profit Margin x
    No. New Customers Each Customer Refers
Knowing this number will probably make your realise how important the other things are, as well as how much you can spend on customer acquisition.

Provide Awesome Service
This goes without saying and is obviously easier said than done! But it's amazing how many months (or years) can go by without us stopping to think - "what could we change to improve the customer experience?" Block out an hour to think about how your processes, facilities, products, or anything else that could be improved.

Get Reviews and/or Collect Feedback
Remember the saying, "what gets measured, gets managed". Ensure you're either collecting feedback internally, or preferrably encouraging online reviews (you get all the benefits of internal collection plus the SEO and marketing benefits). This creates a feedback loop and keeps your focus on customer satisfaction.

Improve the Way you Handle Feedback
When someone takes the time to review your business, call with a complaint, or mentions you online, please show them some respect and respond! Even if their feedback is negative, you can often turn the situation around and a lost customer can become one of your biggest advocates. See our tips for responding to negative and positive reviews here.

Build a Customer Service Culture
Let everyone in your organisation know that each customers' experience matters. Keep the focus high by congratulating staff when they provide good service, celebrating good feedback (print out and pin up your reviews), and make customer service part of everyone's KPI's (even if their customers are internal).

Track Customer Sources
Being smart about customers requires knowing where they're coming from. This is usually as simple as asking each new customer how they heard about your business. Set up a field in your computer system, a column in your bookings sheet, or some other simple method. If it's too difficult to do in an ongoing manner, decide to spend a just one week focussing on this question to get a reasonable snapshot. (When Misty's 1950's Diner did this, she found that one-third of her revenue came from customers that had found her on WOMOW).

Keep Communicating with Customers
Once customers walk out the door, don't let them forget about you. Keep your business top of mind by communicating with them and showing them they matter. Send them a special offer, update on your products/services, information they might find useful, check on whether they were happy with your product/service, thank them for their patronage (maybe with a gift), or find some other excuse to keep in contact. If you don't already, collect their email address so that you can stay in touch easily. A fancy email newsletter is nice, but an informal message (that is quick to prepare) can be just as effective.

Customers are the whole reason for a business' existance - so keep your focus on things that actually have a positive impact on your customers.

12 Tips for getting more Customer Reviews

Sorry, this blog update has moved.

>> Please click here to read this article <<

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Doing Business in Tough Times: 7 tips to get you through

Some industries are facing tough times right now, and others are facing very tough times. So we thought it would be a good opportunity to have a look at the implications of what it means for businesses when the economy is down. This doesn't apply to all industries right now, but if your segment is running flat, some important points to remember are;
  • Forget About Maximising Profits
    Now is not the time to be worrying about growing your bottom line numbers - it's time for focussing on staying in the game!

  • It's a Great Time to Build Market Share
    Even if the whole economy has moved down a notch, chances are that people are still buying what your business provides. People might buy less often, and might buy less from you, but make sure they're buying from you! Once the economy picks up, you'll be in a prime position to grow.

  • Adjust to the New Realities
    Rather than whine about changes that are negatively affecting your industry, be a leader that takes the new technologies and makes them work to your advantage. Change your business model so that you're selling where customers are buying - and if that's online, you'd better get good at that! Ensure your business is optimised for 2011 (not 1999). Rethink your marketing, your staff, your operations and your administration. What needs to change?

  • Compete on Service NOT Price
    When times are tough, the tendency is to discount, discount, discount. While there may be merit in reducing your prices somewhat, there'll only ever be one winner at that game and you probably don't want to win the prize for dropping your pants lowest! The alternative is to compete on customer service. Provide each and every one of your customers with exemplary service and showcase this to everyone else! Give customers the best experience possible and aim to be the best value, not the lowest price.

  • It's Not Personal
    Remember, your reaction to any set of circumstances is up to you. Don't let it get you down! Smile. Keep healthy. Nurture your friends and family. Look after yourself. And if you're struggling to keep things in perspective, stop and do something about it (take a break, seek advice, get some fresh air, or whatever works for you).

  • Focus on Your Sphere of Influence
    Stop thinking about and talking about how difficult everything is. (If you talk about problems, all you'll see is problems.) Start focussing on the customer in front of you and how you could make their experience a little bit better. Make them feel like dealing with you again... soon!

  • Good Businesses WILL Survive
    Remember, this is temporary and you've probably experienced something like it before. Think of these times as a shake-out designed to test which businesses should be here. If you've got a great offering and determination, obviously that's you. Be smart and you'll get through!

Businesses Urged to update their Dinosaur Marketing Strategies

We recently spoke to Bruno Cristovao from Copy Magic to see how WOMOW was working for them. Their business has embraced the transparency of consumer feedback and he urges other business owners to do the same...

"Some business owners are afraid to ask their customers for feedback, which worries me as they're missing out on a huge opportunity to promote themselves and they're doing their business a disservice. Online customer reviews are helping people find us on the web, and more importantly, to create trust and get a sense of who we are as a business."

"It took a few months for us to build our reviews, but the more reviews we get, the more enquiries we get from our online forms. We now staple a 'Review Us' flyer to every invoice we send out. Just one job that came from someone finding us on WOMOW paid for more than a year's worth of promotion, so it's great value for money. The customer was a multi-national business and we have done repeat business!"

"I know that some businesses are still wasting money on Yellow Pages and White Pages - they're the slow moving dinosaurs of the industry. Everyone's searching for businesses with a reviewed reputation online these days and WOMOW are the experts in this field . We are not the Mr Bigs of the print industry, but with customer reviews on WOMOW, we feel that it highlights that we can compete and facilate change in our business. Our focus on personalised customer service is paying off and we're growing at 30% per annum. The growth has allowed us to invest back into the community."

Bruno Cristovao, Copy Magic

Monday, June 6, 2011

Testimonials are Good, Reviews are Better (what's the difference anyway?)

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>> Please click here to read it <<

How Transparency Benefits Your Industry (yes, even health and medical businesses)

We've heard through the grapevine about some health profession bodies warning their members (ie practitioners) about the 'dangers' of customer reviews. It seems that their concerns mainly hinge on some confusion about the differences between 'reviews' and 'testimonials'. Because testimonials are known to be so powerful (although not as powerful as reviews), and testimonials are under the direct control of the practitioner, they have traditionally been prohibited to protect public interests. However, while these are the grounds that are stated, it appears that some industries are afraid of transparency in general.

Savvy Consumers are Becoming the Norm

Like it or not, transparency in our society is increasing (and will continue to increase). However, we should look at this as a positive phenomenum - not only for consumers, but for businesses as well. As Seth Godin argues, increased transparency leads to increases profitability. While the tendency is to think about the possibility of negative reviews and to come up with reasons why consumers are wrong and/or don't know enough to comment, the reality is that customer reviews put more focus on service and quality outcomes.

Transparency shifts the Focus to Quality

As Seth points out, when book reviews are available, book sales go up. (Coremetrics research has proven that when people read reviews, they are 30% more likely to purchase.)

When consumers get used to transparency, they get more interested in the quality of your service, and are more willing to pay extra (or wait longer, or drive further). This means that as good service providers start getting all the customers, other (lower quality) service providers either decide to lift their game, or are forced to exit the industry. So the standards and overall quality of the industry rise, while profits also increase.

Stop Hiding and Own Your Service!

Businesses that embrace transparency and encourage real feedback will find they're soon getting a huge amount of new customers. (In fact, many businesses tell us they're amazed to find how many consumers are searching online for reviews on all kinds of businesses.)

Real reviews generate trust and help people know whether you're the type of business that's right for their needs.

But equally importantly, you'll need to live up to your reviews. When customers choose your business based on reviews, they understand the influence that reviews have on others. Whether they leave disappointed or thrilled, they'll be likely to share their experience online. Which means that when there are significant numbers of reviews, it's safe to say that good businesses shine (without needing a perfect track record), and shabby businesses are outed.

Reviews on doctors won't mean that people stop seeing doctors - but it may mean that they'll be prepared to give up more to see a reputable one.

Announcing: The Best Health and Medical services in Australia

Ever moved to a new area and wondered how to find a great doctor and dentist? What about a physiotherapist, chiropractor, naturopath or podiatrist? Your health is so important yet until now, it's been really difficult to find and choose health professionals you can trust. Even finding a great gym, personal trainer, yoga studio or masseuse is often pot-luck - there's a lot of great service providers out there, but also a lot to avoid!

As a first for Australia, we've tallied up the very BEST health and medical businesses - based solely on customer reviews.

Check out the Best Health and Medical services here...

Although some regulation bodies within the health industry HATE the fact that their profession is up for review, this is THE BEST WAY for customers to find and choose practitioners that they can trust. Customer reviews not only help individual consumers, they raise the demand for good practitioners and increased transparency will ultimately raise the standards within that industry.

We're very happy to congratulate all of these health and medical services for their outstanding service and contribution to society.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

When you sell your business, how will you measure Goodwill?

It's hard being a business owner. You work incredible hours, put your heart and soul into each customer, your business' reputation, your staff, everything - and you never switch off (not even sleeping).

But there's an end in sight - one day you hope to sell your business, reap the rewards, and lie on a deck chair somewhere drinking margaritas by the pool.

Hopefully your plan comes true but depending on what type of business you're in, it can be tricky to sell-out at a price that rewards you for all the work you've put in.

The biggest place where value is contested is the "Goodwill" line item. Technically, "goodwill" is the value of an entity over and above the value of its assets**. If you're lucky enough to have several buyers creating demand and bidding for your business, then this might not be an issue. But most of the time, the price paid for the business is highly influenced by the way the business is presented to potential buyers.

Of course, you know that your business has built a name for itself, that customers travel from all over town just to deal with you, that your staff are highly trained in customer service, and that you deliver a much better result than your competitors... but proving it can be another matter.

Would your business command a higher price with 5 glowing customer reviews?

What about 50 glowing customer reviews?

Would a shiny business award attract the attention of more buyers?

Would a celebrity customer or two tip a buyer over the line?

Or some encouraging press about your business or industry?

A resoundingly positive reputation is likely to pay huge dividends when the time comes to value the Goodwill in your business.

Just some food for thought if you're thinking of selling up in the next few years...

*This post was inspired by a business recently spotted using their customer reviews on WOMOW and their Best Business Award as a key part of the marketing for selling their business.

**We're not accountants or financial advisors so please get your own advice.

You're Dumped: Why Customers Leave

Sorry, this blog update has moved.

>> Please click here to read this article <<

Monday, May 2, 2011

The Word-Of-Mouth Revolution is hitting Australia

The secret is out: customer reviews are revolutionising the way consumers make decisions.

Thousands of people are reporting that they've found amazing businesses - often right under their noses - using word-of-mouth on the web. In some senses, it's word-of-mouth as it's always been - but being online, it's more powerful than ever.

According to Rachael, a WOMOW member, customer reviews are giving "the power back to the people", putting more information in their hands and allowing them to make a more informed decision.

It's a revolution that's changing the way customers connect with businesses. In the words of some WOMOW members;

  • "I use WOMOW to find new businesses to use, as hearing first hand from somebody who has used the business helps me find a reliable, friendly service to use. I often use WOMOW at work, as I organise everything from printing to transport. I found a great printing supply company to get my ink for our office printer, and I am still using them to this day!" Cassie
  • "Before I go to any business, I usually take a look to see if anyone's given it a rating. This is often for restaurants, but I also use it for service industries too. Not only has it saved me the hassle of finding businesses around my area quickly, it also gives me obviously their reviews so I know whether they will do a good job or not. I'm not one that likes being disappointed, and by using WOMOW, I can easily avoid this." Edward
  • "Our family has learned to 'WOMOW' any prospective business prior to use, as this seemingly minor action has the potential to have major consequences. After all, avoiding an incompetent and uncaring business will save us all a considerable amount of time, effort and money in the long run. We learn from other people’s mistakes and avoid problematic businesses by 'WOMOWing' them prior to doing business with them." Jayne
While traditional directories are suffering a severe decline, Word Of Mouth On the Web is growing at an alarming rate. In the last 12 months, we've seen searches for reviews on businesses double and many businesses report that online reviews account for a significant proportion of their new customers. In fact, it's estimated that 1 in 4 Australian decision-makers have used reviews on WOMOW to help them find great businesses during the last 12 months.

Consumers are becoming more informed and don't put much trust in traditional advertising;

  • "While we, as a family seldom trust advertising gimmicks/sources these days, we do however place a great deal of importance on 'personal' reviews." Jayne
  • "Normal advertising is there to convince us to use their service or product, I love reviews from other people just like me who just want to get good service without having to deal with bad experiences along the way. Reviews are more honest!" Cassie
  • "Any business can espouse and exaggerate their own virtues, and we would be none the wiser until we actually try them out. Thankfully, through sites like WOMOW, we can get a real description of what the business is like to interact with. Nothing truer spreads like word of mouth." Krystle

Word-of-mouth is becoming a revolution that's changing the ways that customers find out information about businesses, and also changing the ways that businesses market themselves and manage their reputations. Customers are loving being able to establish more of a voice within the business world, and as Edward Wong, a WOMOW member states, "businesses should sit up and take note as it's now all about customer service and if we're not happy, we now have another means to voice our opinion".

It may not be too long before WOMOW is having a similar impact to Yelp.com which is now the 15th most popular site in the United States and has an enormous impact on both consumers and businesses.

Customer Satisfaction at a TWO YEAR High

April 2011 has been a great month for consumers with customer satisfaction reaching a 2-year high. Reviews website WOMOW (Word Of Mouth On the Web), reports that customer satisfaction has been climbing for the last 4 months straight. The graph below shows the trend in customer ratings by month over the last 2 years (May 2009-April 2011). Since a low in December, businesses have picked up their game and are doing a great job. And customers are noticing!

This data shows that customers are least happy around the months of November/December, which could be attributed to pre-Christmas pressure and it's impact on both service levels and customer anxiety. However January sees a slight increase when Christmas stress is removed and demands on service providers are reduced.

The period from February-April is when customer satisfaction is highest, with an increase also occurring around September. This is possibly influenced by school holidays and the associated reduced pressure during these times.

But despite Australian consumers having high expectations of the businesses they use, reviews on WOMOW are overwhelmingly positive with over 93% of reviews scoring a rating of 3 or more out of 5. More than ever, businesses that provide good service are being rewarded with positive feedback and the enormous rewards of word-of-mouth.

This result is both a big tick for businesses, and also a great sign for future performance. With more and more people using reviews to choose their service providers, businesses with great feedback report that customers reviews are a significant source of new enquiries - so the more positive reviews businesses have, the more customers they're likely to attract.

WOMOW.com.au is the number one site in Australia for customer reviews on businesses, with approximately 167,000 reviews posted by its 70,000 members - everyday consumers.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Make Deposits with your Customers' Bank Accounts

Your intention is to run a profitable business, so it makes sense that each transaction you have with customers should be profitable, right? Well maybe, but here's where many businesses go wrong. If you think about the profitability of each transaction, the tendency is to scrimp on value while extracting a maximum price from the customer. But does that make them want to return? Are they going to be blown away with the quality and/or customer service? Do they feel compelled to tell their friends how impressed they are with your business? And most importantly, does it maximise the lifetime value of this customer? No, no, no, and NO!

It's about the Lifetime Value of the Customer

In almost all businesses, customers should be seen as an investment. Yes, they're the source of your income, but if you view your potential income over the next year (or even 5 years), then you'll easily see why you should forget about maximising the return on each transaction.

These types of surprise gifts are often more powerful than incentives as they show genuine care, and encourage the customer to feel favourably towards you and your business. Remember, the lifetime value of your customers comes from;
  • the average size of their order
  • the number of times per year they purchase from you
  • the number (and quality) of the people they refer to you
  • the length of time they remain loyal to you
But how? (Go out of your way to be nice)

Instead, do something your competition is too scared to do. According to returncustomer.com, you should surprise your customers and make their day with something:

  • Free – it isn’t a surprise if you have to pay extra for it
  • Unexpected – surprises come out the blue without warning and without high expectations (they are not an incentive for doing something, they're a thank-you)
  • Exclusive – is your surprise a special gift for the customer that non-customers can’t get?
  • Relevant – your surprise should be a good match, companion, or accessory to the main purchase.
Go out of your way to find a reason to give your customer something extra. How about;
  • You are the nicest customer I've had today, please take this as a token of my appreciation.
  • I love helping parents/students/pensioners - here's a small gift.
  • Hey, you're the 50th customer of the week.
  • Thank you for being the first/last customer of the day.
  • Because it's your first time here, please take this to remind you to come back.
  • I know it's your birthday this week - please have this on us.
  • Thank you for trying us out, it means a lot to us.
But what can you give away? Something that means something to your customer - enough to make them remember you - without sending you broke. Some examples of surprise rewards could be;
  • Free shipping, delivery, gift wrapping etc
  • Vouchers for return visits to reward loyalty - e.g. 20% off on your next visit
  • Vouchers to give to a friend - invite a friend for free
  • Secret sales - for members/email subscribers only
  • Privileged information - for customers only (eg industry insights, fashion tips, secret recipes)
  • Thank you notes/calls/emails - done soon after the purchase, perhaps checking up to make sure everything is O.K
  • Christmas & birthday cards/small gifts (eg flowers, chocolates, movie tickets, book vouchers, bottle of wine, nice pen, dinner voucher, etc)
  • Surprise gifts tailored to individual customers. Watch this for an extreme example, but if you've got high-value customers, you probably should tailor some gifts specifically for them. It's not that hard to pick up on their hobbies and passions and find a gift that is relevant and hand-picked for them.
Harness the Power of Reciprocity

Social psychology tells us that it's human nature to respond to a positive action with another positive action. So make sure you leave your customers thinking that they owe you something - because you've gone out of your way or given then something extra. If you consistently give more than is expected, you'll be amazed at how customers will respond.

Go on, make an unconditional deposit with a few of your customers today.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

How to Respond to Positive Reviews

Sorry, this blog update has moved.

>> Please click here to read this article <<

How to Respond to Negative Reviews

Sorry, this blog update has moved.

>> Please click here to read this article <<

Monday, February 28, 2011

How to use Special Offers Effectively

Win New Customers without Sabotaging Profitability

There's no question about it, special offers and discounts can be a great way to win new customers, boost short-term revenues, move stock, fill excess capacity, and achieve other business goals. But how do you use them effectively to get the best results?

Don't be Half-Hearted!

Firstly, if you're going to use an offer, make it an attractive! Not many people are going to change their buying habits for a 5 or even 10% discount. If you're looking for offers to really drive more new customers, you need to think of the discount you're giving away as the cost of acquiring a new customer. Yes, in the shoft-term your margins might take a hit, but think of the discount as part of your marketing investment. If your customers generally go on to generate a lot of repeat business, then you can probably afford to be very generous with your new customer offers.

Choose Your Audience Carefully

Secondly, you need to think where you're going to promote the offer. If it's only promoted to people that have signed up to receive offers (eg Groupon/Scoopon/Spreets), you want to tread carefully. This market is looking for the latest deal and is likely to continue that behaviour. It would probably take a pretty sensational experience to persuade them to become a loyal customer (they're likely to continue shopping around for a better deal elsewhere). If you can present your offer to people that fall more naturally into your target market (but still need a little encouragement to give you a try), then you're likely to be much more successful.

Be Smart when you Craft your Offer

Thirdly, try different ways of packaging up your offer. The same effective discount could be presented as...
  • 25% off!
  • Save $50 (when you spend more than $200)!
  • 2nd person dines for HALF Price!
  • Kids eat for FREE
  • 2 courses + a bottle of wine to share for only $99!
  • Dine with us and see a movie for FREE
What sounds more effective to you? They might each cost you the same, but they'll sure to get a different level of response. You could also incentivise repeat business. For example, "start your weekly clean this week and get your 3rd week FREE", or "Get your Nails done today, and Get a Voucher for the next Manicure FREE".

The type of offer that works best will vary depending on your audience and your product/service, but often;

  • Percentage Off is the least enticing (unless you're able to give away more than 30%)
  • Dollars Off sounds more attractive (even if you need to put a minimum spend as part of the offer conditions)
  • Something Free is even more enticing, so long as it's something customers actually value (free delivery, buy something - get something else free, buy 2 - get a 3rd free, etc - but please don't throw in a canvas bag!)
  • Bundled offers can be exceptional (if done well) - the beauty industry often does this well with various "pamper packs", but why don't restaurants do this with the nearby cinema, or gyms provide a massage every 6 months, or computer services bundle in phone-support or virus protection?
  • Give-Aways and Go-Into-the-Draw to Win can be good, but the give-away or prize needs to be spot on (and fairly large for a Draw-Prize)

Businesses on WOMOW.com.au can use Special Offers to effectively target people that value quality and good service (the ideal type of customer). The offers you include on your profile are emailed to the members that have elected to hear about the reviews and offers from business in (and servicing) their areas. These are an extremely effective way to get more exposure and win new customers. So make sure you're making use of it and changing your offer frequently to keep it fresh and test what works best.

Special Offers combined with positive customer reviews? Unbeatable!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Monday, February 14, 2011

Customer Reviews get you Found in Google (and other search engines)

You know that search engine marketing is important, right? But did you realise that 80% of purchases for all goods and services start with a search on the internet! (Neilson Netratings). So if your business is not generating a significant amount of business online (whether you sell online or not), you're probably missing out on a huge opportunity.

Getting onto the first page of Google search results is every business owner's dream. But many businesses approach search optimisation in the wrong way...
A mistake businesses often make is to search for their own business name. If customers know your business name, they've probably already decided to use you. It's the other searches that you should focus on...
More important is to search for "[business type], [suburb]" or "best [business type], [city]" or "[business type] reviews, [city]", or even "[business type] [service speciality], [suburb]". In other words, don't search for "Lisa's Hairdressing Salon" - yes, your business should be found easily but this should be pretty easy when people type in your business name. Instead, search for "hairdresser, Eslternwick" or "best hairdresser, Melbourne", or "hairdresser reviews, Melbourne", or "hairdressers with play areas, Melbourne".

Getting found for very specific phrases and especially phrases that include "best", "reviews" and other similar words is something you can either employ the services of an expensive SEO business to help with, or you can enlist your customers to write reviews for you.

Customer reviews are an extremely effective way to optimise your business information for Google.
It's not magic. Customer reviews work to get found in Google because they're real people describing your business, in real people's language. They're also fresh information, which Google loves.

When people search for businesses, they use terms that you're unlikely to find on most business websites. But these are often the exact same words that your customers use to describe your business. For example, the website for Mike's Sports Physiotherapy might say something like "We provide professional physiotherapy services and treat all kinds of sports problems. We offer thorough assessment and treatment which can include stretching and strengthening programs."

On the other hand, a customer might write a review saying; "I hurt my shoulder playing tennis and decided to see a physio. Turns out my injury was quite easy to treat and only took 2 sessions. I was nervous at first but Mike was extremely gentle - I'd recommend him to anyone in the Eastern suburbs."

If a potential customer was searching on Google, they might type "gentle physio for tennis injury in eastern suburbs". Mike's website would fail dismally but his listing on WOMOW would have a great chance of being one of the top results. This is an extremely powerful way to substantially improve your positioning on Google.

Surprisingly, it can be extremely difficult for a business owner to know just how their potential customers are searching on the web. One case in point was a dog trainer. He had a great website but when one of his customers reviewed him on WOMOW and referred to him as the "dog whisperer", his web traffic soared.
And when people find your business, they see a whole lot of your customers telling them what fantastic service you provide! There's simply nothing more convincing than that.
So what are you waiting for? Start building up a bank of customer reviews and watch your traffic and new enquiries soar. The more reviews you get, the better this works...

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

How I find the RIGHT type of Customers for my Business

Sorry, this blog update has moved.

>> Please click here to read this article <<

Australian Consumers Demand Better Service
(but grant second chances)

When it comes to customer service, it turns out that we Australians are some of the the least tolerant customers in the world - second only to Mexicans. In fact, almost 9 out of 10 Australians say they would stop using a business if they receive bad service! Just the punch in the face you needed? Don't worry, it's not (quite) as bad as it sounds...

A recent survey(1) explored preferences and attitudes of customers from Australia and eleven other countries. The findings show that 28% of Australian customers are only willing to excuse one service lapse before blacklisting the company. However, a large portion of Australians (48%) will allow two poor customer service experiences before deciding to end their relationship with the business altogether.

This prospect of a ‘second-chance’ provides businesses with a great opportunity to improve the service and provide more value to their customers. Most reasonable customers understand that there are occasional lapses in the level of service delivered, but if customers realise that a bad experience is an exception rather than the rule, they will be much more understanding and inclined to give the business another go.

The research also found that customers are more forgiving of poor service if they've generally experienced good service with the company over time. This finding highlights the importance of building lasting relationships with each customer and understanding the value of each customer rather than just the transaction.

The Barometer also shows that contrary to popular opinion, a good service experience has a greater impact on customers than a negative one. Consumers are more likely to give a company repeat business and to speak positively about the company after a good service experience (96%), than they are to never do business with a company again (88%) or speak negatively about the company (89%) after a poor experience.

This brings us back to the importance of collecting feedback. Your satisfied customers are usually very happy to refer your business to others (either verbally or online) for nothing more than the gesture of goodwill towards their friends and the business. This feedback then not only brings new customers to the business, but also reduces the impact of a poor customer experience.

Surprisingly, the study found that when bad service is received, Australians are unlikely to provide direct feedback to the business. In fact, compared to the other countries, Australians are among those who are most unlikely to speak to the business’s owner or manager about the incident and even less inclined to write a letter or an email to the company. So you can't rely on customers proactively telling you they're unhappy, you need a system for collecting their feedback.

After experiencing poor service, 35% of Australians say they will post a comment online such as a blog or social networking site. Although is not such a high proportion, it is incredibly influencial when you consider that 90% of people go to the internet first when they need a product or service! It’s therefore extremely important for businesses to have a great track-record online.

When things do go wrong, the study found that the most important thing a business can do is to acknowledge the mistake. In fact, more than half of Australians rate financial compensation second to that of an apology. An apology can go a long way in making a customer feel that their problems are being addressed and that they are valued and appreciated.
So, to make amends for a poor customer experience:
  • Acknowledge the poor service and provide an apology. Ideally, this should be done by the person at fault, or by the manager / owner.

  • Plan, plan, plan. Have a plan to deal with unsatisfied customers. This should be something the business owner or manager discusses with all employees. It only takes one employee to turn a good experience into a bad one and vice versa. Every employee has the power to build or destroy relationships.

  • Resolve the issue speedily, effortlessly and courteously. Consider the value of the customer rather than the transaction.
Yes, we're a picky bunch but let's face it, it's not that hard to get right most of the time and make amends when we do slip up. Come on businesses - let's rise to the challenge of servicing a nation of hard-to-please consumers!

Find out more about promoting your business with word-of-mouth.

(1) Conducted by the American Express Global Customer Service Barometer

Friday, January 14, 2011