Have you ever listened to one of your friends rave about a person they’re really excited about? After hearing them talk, you might say to yourself “Wow, they sound really great.” You’re looking forward to seeing them. You can imagine how great it will be to finally meet this person.
But when you get to that first introduction, their handshake is limp. Their eyes dart nervously around the room. They can’t string a coherent sentence together. They smell funny. Within seconds, you’re looking for the nearest available exit.
What happened? Your friend was completely sold on this person. But if your experience didn’t match up to their word-of-mouth, that praise turns to dust.
Word-of-mouth leads to research
Word-of-mouth is only the first step towards earning a customer. Have you thought about what they do after they hear a recommendation?
In the past, they might’ve looked you up in the Yellow Pages. These days, phone book usage has plummeted as more and more people look for instant information online.
The Internet allows people to research word-of-mouth recommendations within seconds. That’s right. People can hear about your business from their friends, colleagues, relatives, neighbors, and jump online to research you.
This is a significant shift. Before they ever step into your store, before they ever pick up the phone, they are checking you out online.
Take a moment to think about what impression your website gives potential clients. Are you satisfied with this or embarrassed?
Your website is your handshake to the world
Many times, your website hosts the first interaction between potential customer and your company. Make sure you’re sending the right message. Website design, content, usability, everything has to work for your clients.
Think of your website as your first chance to provide great customer service. Make sure you’ve done everything in your power to satisfy their needs for information, education, and convenience. What questions do people have about your company? What information do they need to do business with you?
Constantly think of ways you can improve their experience. This is a good faith promise that you will be there to help them every step of the way. Remember, these first online impressions can convert word-of-mouth recommendations into a customer, or drive them into the arms of your competition.
Word-of-mouth can echo across the web
The good news: word-of-mouth spreads just as fast online as it does in the real world. Review sites are springing up all across the Internet, and these opinions can make or break a prospect’s opinion about your business.
Yahoo! Local, Google Local, Yelp.com, InsiderPages, and a host of other sites are dedicated to providing consumers with information about your company. Make sure your information is updated, and encourage your happy customers to share the news about your company. And of course, make sure you post testimonials and reviews on your website as well.
Press releases and articles are another way to boost your credibility. People searching for your company can see a wealth of information about your success, philosophy, and business practices. Everything they need to feel secure doing business with you.
Word-of-mouth is still a powerful tool to drive business to your company. Your website can help convert these recommendations into satisfied customers.
Need help making that first impression? Give us a call; we can help.