Customer Experience: Don’t Ignore User-Generated Content
GENERATION Y AND USER-GENERATED CONTENT
Social media and online reviews have made it much easier for consumers to research products and services before making a purchase. Comparison shopping, or simply asking friends and family their opinions via Facebook status, is now normal pre-purchase behavior. Companies looking to make a sale need to be aware of what’s being said about them online and, where possible, encourage positive ratings and online reviews from their best customers to build their online reputation.
As Generation Y comes of age, their effect on the economy grows with them. Estimated to be the largest consumer group in history, Gen Y refers to those born between 1977 and 1994. In approximately five years, their spending will likely surpass that of the Baby Boomers.
What does that have to do with user-generated content? A lot! In fact, when it comes to big purchases—electronics, cars, hotels, etc.—Gen Y relies on customer reviews. In addition, this up-and-coming generation is the first to value the opinions of strangers over those of their family and friends, making online reviews even more relevant and important for businesses.
USER-GENERATED CONTENT: LET GO AND STAY ON TOP!
There are many ways you can go about getting feedback from your customers and participating in conversations about your products and services. Digital marketing thus needs to account for multiple platforms, such as product and photography sites and blogs, video, podcasts, discussion forums, social networks and wikis.
Here are a few suggestions:
Encourage social discussion by leveraging your social media profiles: Ask your fans what they think of your products or services or to share their customer experience.
Ask your regular customers: There’s nothing wrong with asking happy customers to write a review. Choose one or two online directories that are particularly relevant for your business and direct them there.
Share: Showcase positive online reviews on your website, social media profiles, or in an email newsletter. A little recognition and a sincere thank you can go a long way.
Make customers aware of your Web presence: Advertise your claimed directory listings and social media profiles in-store, through email newsletters, or on other promotional pieces.
Show customers that you’re listening: Respond to all of the feedback you receive.
INCORPORATE USER-GENERATED CONTENT INTO YOUR COMMUNICATIONS STRATEGY
So you’ve used some of our tips above, and are starting to get feedback online. It is fun getting positive feedback, and a quick ‘thank you’ is really all that’s needed when it comes to generating a response. If the review is particularly good, you may want to ask the customer if you can share the content on your social media channels, or in your email newsletter. Of course, there’s also a possibility that you’ll get some negative feedback too. That’s ok. First, it’s a chance for your business to recognize areas of improvement. Second, the initial negative provides a great opportunity to improve customer experience and loyalty by addressing the issue.
Here are a few tips on how to respond when your business is mentioned online:
Stick to the same channel: If someone tweets you, respond on Twitter. If a question is asked on your Facebook fan page, comment on their post on your page. If a customer leaves a review on Yelp, you should respond on—you guessed it—Yelp.
Be conversational: Ditch the aggressive sales pitch. Instead, focus on being friendly and helpful. Your goodwill will help to build a positive image of your business in the mind of potential customers.
If you make a mistake, apologize: Nobody’s perfect. Say you’re sorry and explain what’s being done to fix the problem. Your customers will thank you.
Offer to connect offline: In some cases, it can be difficult to offer a complete response online. Share your phone number or email address so that the customer can get in touch if they’d like additional information.
Online reviews and other user-generated content have the potential to be great promotional tools for your business, especially when they’re included in your communications strategy. Share your best reviews on your website and social media profiles, or incorporate tweets from your followers in your monthly newsletter. Don’t forget about your offline marketing either–coupons with reviews have a 10% greater redemption rate than those without.
Monitoring online conversations and proactively responding to customer queries and concerns in social channels enhance customer lifecycle management. Keep in mind that user-generated content can affect customer relationship management at a variety of touch points from acquisition to customer experience, to retention and loyalty.
User generated content in the context of forums, communities, and knowledge bases, especially when managed by the business, allows for a more seamless integration of social CRM and contact center management. In some cases, contact centers have leveraged user generated content to improve first contact resolution (FCR) to drive up customer experience.
When managed effectively, user-generated content and reviews can drastically improve trust, and as a result, sales for your business.
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