Reputation Management: Customer Experience or Marketing?


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osteria da fortunataI recently took my family on a vacation to Rome and we saw some great sites and ate some amazing food, especially the fresh made pasta.  During our visit, we used both Yelp and Trip Advisor extensively to help us choose the restaurants where we dined.  After all there are 8,374 restaurants in Rome listed on Trip Advisor.  One restaurant we chose had amazing ratings, as well as great comments about the food.  The ratings were not wrong…to quote Guy Fieri, their food was off the hook.  Check out the picture of the handmade pasta being made right in front of us.   When we mentioned to the manager that their ratings were great on trip advisor they were not familiar with the website, though they did know Yelp.

Unlike Osteria Da Fortunata (ranked 493 out of 8,374), many companies are acutely aware of their social media reputation and the myriad sites on which consumers can post ratings and comments. Many companies have begun to implement reputation management programs that encourage customers who complete satisfaction surveys to post about their experience to social media sites. Sometimes all customers are encouraged to post, while some companies choose to encourage only those customers who expressed high levels of satisfaction.

Some companies are even considering refocusing their customer experience measurement programs to emphasize reputation management, while de-emphasizing or eliminating traditional satisfaction studies.

You don’t have to have a Ph.D. or an MBA to realize that the reason companies are so focused on reputation management is the significant impact it can have on future customers. The ubiquity of smartphones and other mobile devices has made it easy for consumers to access consumer reviews and ratings for a wide variety of goods and services. The use of such rating sites has been exploding for the past several years.

When we were using Trip Advisor and Yelp to find restaurants in Rome, we wanted to learn two things from the ratings: 1) restaurants we should avoid; and 2) restaurants that were among the very best. When there are more than 8,000 restaurants from which to choose, should you really be going to anything ranked worse than 2,000? The ratings are great, but the comments are invaluable to truly “get to know” the restaurant before making a visit. Essentially, I was learning from others’ experiences.

What this all points out is that today the experience of current customers no longer simply impacts whether they will continue to be a customer, but also whether non-customers will give you a try. If it hasn’t already, the customer experience is fast becoming the most important marketing tool of the company. A company can spend millions of dollars on advertising and marketing, which will be totally wasted if the customer experience does not deliver on the position you are promoting.

Much like my search for restaurants in Rome, companies are increasingly worried about two objectives with their reputation management and social media programs.

1) Avoid a Veto: Negative posts have for almost the last decade been a very significant concern for companies and specifically their marketers. A few negative posts can significantly lower the average rating and the reviews themselves can cause a customer to eliminate a product or service from consideration. This is an argument for asking all customers to post. Even if there may still be some negative posts, they will be properly represented among many positive ones, reducing the veto impact.

2) Increase the Chance of Being Selected: In some ways this is akin to SEO in the search world. Companies worked to get the right key words to get to the top of page 1 on Google for relevant searches. When it comes to user reviews, companies are trying to get as many 5-star reviews as they can to move to the top of the rankings. This is a much newer trend that is taking hold with the explosion of social media ratings posts. Consumers are increasingly seeing value in participating in crowdsourced information sites.

The fact that marketing success is increasingly dependent upon customer experience is having a significant impact on the focus companies put on it. It has implications for customer engagement programs, as well as how functions like marketing, operations, and IT are organized.

Is reputation management a customer experience program? How should it fit in with other customer experience programs? Ah, these questions deserve more space than I have left. Stay tuned for my next blog…

(And if you are planning a trip to Rome, I highly recommend Osteria Da Fortunata. It was buonissimo.)

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Michael Allenson
Michael is Founder of CXDriven. Formerly he was Principal CX Transformation Consultant at MaritzCX where he led a global team that consulted with clients on how to better leverage their customer experience management programs to drive business success. A frequent writer and presenter, Michael is passionate about helping companies leverage customer intelligence to take action that creates lasting customer relationships and sustainable improvements in growth and profitability. Over a 20+ year career, he has consulted with numerous Fortune 500 companies and their leadership teams on how to uncover superior insights and turn them into action. Prior to his role at MaritzCX, Michael was a Senior Consultant for Maritz Research, Technomic, Diamond Management and Technology Consultants and Leo J. Shapiro and Associates.



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