Word of mouth is the act of a customer sharing his or her experience with another person. A recommendation or tip passed from one customer to another by word of mouth provides credibility, reduces doubt in the customer's mind, and plays a critical factor in the customer's final selection or purchasing decision.
A recent survey analyzed the effect of word of mouth communication and found 85 percent of Americans polled said that comments from co-workers, friends, family members and others carry a considerable amount of weight with them. (Harris Interactive study, December 2005).
It is also a fact that many successful companies have a formal referral system for finding new customers.
A reason to talk about your service
Word of mouth marketing is giving customers a reason to talk about your vending or office coffee service company and making it easier for that dialogue to take place. As the owner of a vending or OCS company, you may not always be able to create the conversation, but you can encourage and facilitate it. Word of mouth marketing is about the actions you can take to empower your current customers, build upon their natural desire to share their positive experience with others, and pique the interest of your target market.
Empower the customer
Word of mouth marketing is harnessing the voice of your customer for the benefit of your brand and making it easier for satisfied customers to tell their business colleagues and contacts about your company's goods and services.
Word of Mouth Techniques
Word of mouth marketing tactics are built on the concept of customer satisfaction and on building a genuine, two-way dialogue with your customers. Start with identifying the "influencers" in your customer base and in your region; the enthusiasts most likely to share their opinions and convince your target market to try your services.
Educate these influencers about your products and services, provide them with information and news, and encourage them to spread the word.
Start with Your Foundation
Do the consumers at your customer locations know the name of your company? They certainly should. If they just finished a refreshing, great tasting cup of coffee or wrapped up a pleasant conversation with one of your courteous route drivers, how can you empower them to spread the word about this great experience and share it? Here are some suggestions:
- Empower your customers to share a positive experience with their friends and families who work for other companies by making sure their experience is rewarding. A satisfied customer is the greatest third-party endorsement.
- Create unique incentives for these customers to take action. Conduct free new product giveaways, new coffee tastings or contests that truly motivate your customers to act, such as "Win a Free iPod with Every New Customer Referral!"
- Create a loyalty program that is tied into your website so that you recruit "brand evangelists" who enthusiastically promote your company online and offline. You will also drive traffic to your website; so ensure it's a robust source of information for your brand, services and products.
- Listen to your customers. Open a two-way dialogue, address their feedback and respond promptly, whether it's a positive, negative or neutral comment. Provide customers with feedback tools, such as online forms, "contact us" e-mails, and crisis contacts. Ensure your response is personalized and honest.
- Stay in constant contact with your customers. Provide them with information that's relevant and useful to them. Every month, send out an eye-catching and professional HTML e-mail newsletter to all of your customers, new prospects, suppliers and old prospects you did not win.
- Be visible and accessible, specifically in places where your target market is looking for information — that's when they'll be most receptive and when your information will be the most useful, appreciated and well received. Start with identifying the places that your potential customers may hear about your company.
- Identify the influencers who provide your prospect and customer base with business, management or financial advice. They include local accountants, attorneys, management consultants, marketing/PR advisors, technology consultants, human resource specialists, risk management experts, insurance brokers, executive recruiters and commercial real estate brokers.