Angry Customers Vent to 3,000
By Tom Ryan
In the digital age, disgruntled customers are in the driver’s seat,
according to Pete Blackshaw, head of strategic services at Nielsen Online,
in his new book, Satisfied Customers Tell Three Friends, Angry Customers
As a result, building “credibility” in cyberspace – e.g., blogs, websites,
video postings – has become essential for brands.
In the book, Mr. Blackshaw
noted that in today’s world of high-speed broadband and commercial-free TiVo,
consumers have less attention and patience for advertising and marketing
than ever before.
“Ad saturation, deceptive messaging, and mismanaged expectations contribute to consumers’ dwindling trust in companies,” wrote Mr. Blackshaw.
Given this wariness on the part of the consumer, companies must do more to cultivate credibility and earn trust rather than simply spending ad dollars to buy awareness.
“There no longer exists a top-down relationship between businesses and consumers,” according to Mr. Blackwell. “While marketers used to have control over the message and could count on the masses to follow along whether they liked it or not, today, the consumer is the boss.”
What’s worse, a brand’s reputation can be run into the ground practically overnight by these web-savvy consumers looking to blow off steam about bad service or deficient products. The book details the many ways gripes are frequently magnified by consumers by the thousand-fold through “consumer-generated media” – blogs, social networking sites, message boards, product review sites and even more commonly in mainstream media.
To manage this cacophony of consumer chatter, companies should be continually monitoring and measuring consumer messages, and seeking to repair any damaged reputations.
“Whether you hire a major firm like Nielsen Online, Cymfony/TNS, Umbria or BuzzLogic, or use any of the various free tools available online, you should be religiously mining the web to understand what CGM [consumer generated media] is saying about your brand,” said Mr. Blackshaw.
But Mr. Blackshaw also noted that this amplifying the voice of the customer also opens up opportunities for brands to bond with consumers on a more personal level. That bond must be built around “credibility,” and the book details how to establish and maintain credibility for a brand by being authentic, listening and responding to customers, and forming relationships built on openness, transparency, and trust.
“Credibility may not be on your balance sheet, but it’s the best asset you’ve got,” wrote Mr. Blackshaw. “Credibility is the only valid currency in this vast and noisy marketplace.”
Discussion Questions: Do you agree that digital media, in particular, offer an opportunity to build greater credibility with consumers? What are the dangers you see in brands trying to monitor and possibly control WOM (word-of-mouth) exchanges? What are the best ways for brands to protect against and capitalize on the surge in consumer generated media?
- Tell 3,000 – Tell3000.com
- Satisfied Customers Tell Three Friends, Angry Customers Tell 3,000 (Excerpt) – MSNBC
- Satisfied Customers Tell Three Friends, Angry Customers Tell 3,000 – Time
- Can’t Get No (Customer) Satisfaction? Try “Satisfied Customers” – CNBC