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It’s no surprise that since then, how the public perceives people, businesses and, well, just about everything based on what they see online has continued to evolve. As a result, businesses are no longer fully in control of their brands; today, the public is, in some huge part, in charge. What consumers say about us and our businesses has far more influence than any outbound marketing effort we could dream up.
The average consumer is exposed to about 10,000 brand messages every day. According to Adweek, more than 53% of consumers use some kind of ad blocker. And a Gallup poll found only 6% of Americans trust big corporations. Think this doesn’t apply to smaller businesses? The same poll found that a third of consumers don’t trust them either. Your brand message falls on deaf ears if your customers aren’t the ones delivering it.
Today, consumers look to others’ opinions to decide how they should feel or think about a brand — and whether or not we should give them our business. This, my friends, has given rise to an economy driven by consumer feedback — what my colleague Joe Fuca calls the Feedback Economy.
I recently shared the stage with Joe at Reputation.com’s annual user conference, Transform’19, and we talked about how companies must learn to engage with consumers in this new environment if they want to have any influence on how the brand is perceived. In the Feedback Economy, engagement is king, consumers have more power, and consumer sentiment can change with a single tweet. Entire discussions go on about us online — and if we’re not paying attention, those conversations can take on a life of their own, wreaking havoc on our ability to attract and retain customers.
Building Your Business Around Feedback
So what can businesses do? Here are four critical strategies you must adopt to survive in the Feedback Economy:
- Know where your customers are online. Depending on your target customer’s demographics and preferences, they will prefer certain channels over others. Are they on Twitter? Facebook? LinkedIn? Instagram? Do they leave reviews on Google or on specialty review sites? Incorporate this data point into your customer research, because it’s a critical aspect of defining and reaching your audience. If you don’t know where to find your customers online, there’s no way to engage with them consistently, or promote those messages you paid your agency tens of thousands to perfect.
- Listen up — and never ever stop listening. Once you’ve figured out where your customers are, tune in and stay tuned in. But you can’t manually track conversations across all review sites and channels — this is an ongoing activity that requires technology. You need a solution that is tightly integrated with Google and provides visibility across all relevant social channels and review sites, with alerts to keep you informed about all activity.
- Take feedback (very) seriously. Take it seriously because if you don’t, you’ll be in serious trouble. About 41% of consumers say that brands replying to reviews left online makes them believe the company really cares about their customers. And 42% of consumers expect a response to an inquiry posted on social within 60 minutes. If you’re not listening continuously, you can’t meet these expectations. What’s more, responding quickly can help improve your reputation. Among customers who received a response from a company after posting a negative comment, 33% turned around and posted a positive review, and 34% deleted the original negative review.
- Leverage AI and machine learning to take action. As I talked about in a previous article, AI isn’t only about convenience appliances and music recommendations. For businesses, the real power of AI lies in how it can be put to work to generate better customer interactions. Through advances in machine learning algorithms, we can now analyze unstructured text from reviews and social media posts to generate truly actionable insights from customer sentiment and behavior. This will ultimately enable us to engage with consumers in ways that they not only prefer but expect, and it will help us fine-tune our interactions with them, to generate repeat business and inspire brand advocacy.
The Feedback Economy is here to stay — the question is, how effectively will your business navigate within it?
June 5, 2019 at 02:19PM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs