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Putting a Price on Customer Opinions

Good morning everyone. And David, thanks for the introduction. It’s 6:45 am here in Seattle – and even though it’s early and the sun is not yet up – I have to say I feel a warm glow all over having read the following article from the New York Times: Help for the Merchant in Navigating a Sea of Shopper Opinions (requires login).

Good morning everyone. And David, thanks for the introduction.

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It’s 6:45 am here in Seattle – and even though it’s early and the sun is not yet up – I have to say I feel a warm glow all over having read the following article from the New York Times: Help for the Merchant in Navigating a Sea of Shopper Opinions (requires login).

Finally, it seems, that merchants are beginning to understand the importance and the power of customers, customer communities and the impact their individual and collective voices have on buying decisions!

I’ve been yelping for quite a bit about the disconnect between what companies believe is important and therefore invest in, and what customers think is important. One of the biggest disconnects is the chasm of importance between the power companies believe advertising and promotion has (yes, even those ‘loyalty’ programs – more on this later) and what customers want. At the end of the day, of course, if you deliver a memorable experience to customers they’ll proclaim your goodness so far and wide that you can begin to diminish your advertising spend. But doing that means fixing the systemic things that are broken in your customer experience and getting the silos to work together (much more on this later)!

But now, our cries in the wilderness for customer LISTENING are beginning to take hold. Here’s a bit of the article: Indeed, according to a survey by Forrester Research, a technology consulting firm, 6 percent of customers say they believe marketers’ advertising claims, and 62 percent say they feel there are too many ads in the media. Forrester also found that fewer than 10 percent of consumers said that television ads influenced their purchase decisions, while more than half said that the recommendations of friends and family changed their purchase plans. “It’s pretty clear that people are trusting the words of other consumers more than what’s broadcast on the airwaves,” said Peter Kim, an analyst with Forrester.

THE GREAT NEWS is that masses of consumers are gladly putting in the time to write these reviews and give their input. And not just at company sponsored sites. Customers are turning to gripe websites such as www.ripoffreport.com, www.planetfeedback.com and www.gethuman.com actively, loudly and in great numbers to vent, voice their opinions and set the record straight about the experiences they are receiving from the companies who ‘serve’ them.

THE QUESTION is: will companies get that this is much more than just a numbers game about populating their websites with masses of consumer feedback? That a big part of this has got to be that they turn the mirror on themselves and begin to change and resolve the much less than desired experiences they are delivering to customers today?

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