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3 ways to boost word of mouth and customer referrals

Posted by Perceptive Team - 11 December, 2014

3 ways to boost word of mouth and referralsWord of mouth (WOM) marketing has been a buzzword for quite a while in the marketing world, but what is it exactly and how can it benefit your business? 

WOM is what people are saying about your brand, both in social media and in the offline world. WOM marketing is seen as the authentic and extremely influential promotion of your brand amongst peers. It’s a total game-changer in terms of marketing effectiveness and has also been found to drive sales.1 A study found that found that WOM increased marketing effectiveness by up to 54 per cent2. Until then, it had been hard to prove the effectiveness of WOM in relation to sales. 


Related content: Your guide to increase positive brand word of mouth


Why customer experience is crucial

If you deliver an outstanding customer experience this not only helps to create loyal fans out of your customers but they’ll also be more likely to promote your brand to their friends and family. 

If you’ve had a negative experience with a company, you’ll tell more of your friends than you would if you’ve had a positive experience. A study by Zendesk found that 95 per cent share bad experiences and 87 per cent share good experiences with others.

And, it’s more likely that customers share bad experiences with multiple people; 54 per cent shared bad experiences with more than five people and 33 per cent shared good experiences with more than five people. 4


Related content: 4 ways to win back lost customers


How to understand your word of mouth

To understand what people are saying about you, just listening to your customers is the first obvious step.

  • To know how your staff manage your customers, you can monitor customer service calls and add a short survey to the end of your calls.
  • Listen to what your customers are saying on social media. Search on Twitter and Facebook by #hashtags and keywords that are relevant to your industry.
  • A very powerful tool to leverage is customer satisfaction surveys. An advanced customer experience tool can provide you with daily feedback so you can understand the issues your customers are experiencing and respond accordingly. 


Related content: 5 best practice tips for collecting customer data


How to deal with bad word of mouth

WOM can be a scary premise for some as it’s something you can’t really control; it’s in the hands of your customers.

  • The way to fully understand your WOM and to be able to proactively rectify any negativity is delve deep into your customer insights and understand the issues they’re experiencing. Then, you can respond in a relevant way to their concerns.
  • If you have any unhappy customers, make sure to respond promptly. Unhappy customers will be even more unhappy when left waiting. Best practice would suggest being as understanding as possible, hearing them out, solving their issue and seeing what else you can do to make their day.  
  • Going over and beyond and exceeding expectations is needed to be able to “save” a customer from spreading negative WOM. Again, WOM is not anything you will have any real control over so ensuring your customer experience is bang on and adopting the following three strategies is a step in the right direction.


Related content: 5 tips to help you approach your most unhappy customers


3 ways to boost WOM and customer referrals  

Other than delivering a great customer experience every time (which should be a given), there are a few things you can do to make WOM really work for you. You need to have a strategic plan in place and work actively to pursue it. Great WOM doesn’t happen over night but can do wonders for your brand, so it will be worth the time spent.


1. Leverage your influencers

No matter what industry you’re in, there will be influencers whom are powerful players in the online world. These are the very influential people that help spread stories about brands. How to find them?

Listen to your customers first and open up a dialogue by welcoming comments through your website or social media channels. Identify the most active participants and invite them to become a part of a group that is first to gain access to new products and services or exclusive information.


2. Create powerful PR

Generally, editorial coverage is seen as more credible than advertising. Identify who the top editors or journalists are who write about your industry. When sending your pitch letters or press releases, tailor your stories specifically to them and then follow up with a phone call or email as appropriate.

For creating buzz around any new products you have launched, aim to land a placement in an editorial review. Having the right placement in the right media can work wonders and will often snowball and get picked up by other media.


3. Go viral

Don’t you wish there was just a button you could push for a surefire way of ensuring that your content (based on the product or service you’re trying to promote) goes viral? The way to achieve this is through a single, clear cut idea or message that you want to communicate through WOM, which is strong enough to encourage customers to talk and share.

Having a newsworthy spin helps, so sense check it by asking yourself “is this new news?” and if so “why?”, “why should people care about this?”. Set the scene and make it easy for people to participate by linking through to an interactive website, with the objective of creating an online community. Or provide something that customers can share along (special offers in an email, downloadable how-to videos or entertaining branded content that links back to your website). Anything that is of real value to customers is more likely to be shared. 


If you want to know more about how to retaining your customers by listening to them, check out our white paper below!

5 reasons why you should listen to your customers

  1. AdAge online “Word-of-Mouth Goes Mainstream, Is Now Measurable”, 6 Feb 2013
  2. Marketshare, 18 Dec 2012
  3. Ogilvy/Google/TNS, 2014
  4. Zendesk, 2013
  5. Harvard Business Review Study "E-Loyalty: Your Secret Weapon on the Web", July 2000
  6. White House Office of Consumer Affairs.

Topics: Brand Health

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