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May 02, 2012 | By Barry Moltz

Managing Your Reputation is the New Key to Customer Service

For most of the last century, consumers believed what a company said in its advertisements. A business might hire an advertising agency on Madison Avenue (ala “Mad Men”) to come up with a slick slogan delivered by a celebrity in order to influence what the customer would buy.

The Internet has allowed society to move from this one way medium to a more conversational one. It is not surprising that 97% of customers review products online before buying. But, what may be a surprise is the exact information they are researching. Consumers are not only looking at the latest features, prices and availability. They want to know what other consumers are saying about the product and the company. Today, these reviews have a higher level of credibility than any company directed advertising and most directly influence what the consumer eventually buys. 92% of consumers say they trust “earned media” (word-of-mouth and recommendations from friends and family) above all other forms of advertising.

This peer review system has become familiar for anyone using sites such as Yahoo! Local, Amazon, eBay, Trip Advisor or Yelp. Consumers value the “human voice” more than any corporate messaging. In addition, Yahoo! search engine results about a particular company or product never fade; they can be found forever!

These days, the immediate electronic delivery of products and fast worldwide shipments of goods makes most products commodities since they are available across vast geographies. Price competition has become intense. This presents a huge challenge for most small business owners as they now have to compete to make a profit against the entire world. As a result, the only truly sustainable competitive advantage for any small business is their customer service. 70% of customers are willing to spend more with companies that provide excellent customer service. It has become their most powerful marketing tool.

Make no mistake. Consumers are talking online about your business. The familiar statistic was that an unhappy customer would tell 7 people. Now through social media and online review sites, they can tell 7 million people!  But a small business owner can use this to their advantage to boost their customer service by following these 4 steps:

Read the remainder of this article at Yahoo! Small Business Advisor.

Barry Moltz gets business owners unstuck by unlocking their long forgotten potential. With decades of entrepreneurial experience in his own business ventures, he has discovered the formula to get stuck business owners and increasing their sales. Barry has founded and run small businesses with a great deal of success and failure for more than 20 years. After successfully selling his last operating business, Barry founded an angel investor group, an angel fund, and is a former advisory member of the board of the Angel Capital Education Foundation. His first book, “You Need to Be A Little Crazy: The Truth about Starting and Growing Your Business” describes the ups and downs and emotional trials of running a business. His second book, “Bounce! Failure, Resiliency and the Confidence to Achieve Your Next Great Success”, shows what it takes to come back and develop true business confidence. His third book, “BAM! Delivering Customer Service in a Self-Service World” shows how customer service is the new marketing. His fourth book, “Small Town Rules: How Small Business and Big Brands can Profit in a Connected Economy” shows how when every customer can talk to every other customer, it’s like living in a small town: Your reputation is everything! His fifth book, “How to Get Unstuck: 25 Ways to Get Your Business Growing Again” helps every small business owners move their company to the next level. Barry is a nationally recognized speaker on small business who has given hundreds of presentations to audiences ranging in size from 20 to 20,000. As a member of the Entrepreneurship Hall of Fame, he has appeared on many TV and radio programs such as CNBC’s The Big Idea, and MSNBC’s Your Business. He hosts his own radio show on AM560, and writes for American Express and Forbes.

One Response to “Managing Your Reputation is the New Key to Customer Service”

  1. Beverlee Molinski says:

    I agree.. Every class or ID used in HTML elements should be easy to remember. Using one letter, such as “w” for ID is really not a good practice. “w” can means “well”, “wrapper”, “widget”, “white”, or else. Too random!

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