Word of Mouth Spits Like Wildfire

Negative Word of Mouth Spits Like Wildfire

by Nicholas Tart on June 5, 2009 · 7 comments

With text messages, emails, wall posts and tweets, it’s easier to communicate than ever before. The easier it is to talk, the faster information will spread. As you may know, word of mouth (WOM) advertising is the most effective form of consumer persuasion. Positive WOM is great, but nothing spreads faster than negative WOM.

There are 5 ways to discourage negative word of mouth from spreading and spitting like wildfire.

1. Provide a quality product or service.

The easiest way to prevent negative WOM is to never give your customers something to complain about. Every product you sell and service you provide should be instilled with quality. Not only will this prevent negative WOM, it will likely encourage people to speak positively about your business.

For example, if you have a candle-making business, then you need to make sure every candle you sell is a quality product. To do this you will have to research to find the best and longest-burning waxes. Additionally, you should handpick the scents so you know your customers will enjoy them.

Fire can’t spread if it’s never sparked.

2. Commit to customer service.

As a business owner, it’s practically impossible to satisfy all of your customers, 100% of the time. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. In fact, when you receive any sort of complaint, you need to do whatever you can to fix it, promptly.

If a customer contacts you and is disappointed with the candle they bought, you should offer them a refund or send them another candle.

You’re more likely to put out the fire if you’re close by when it starts.

3. Ask your customers if they have any issues with your business.

Once you start retaining customers, meaning they purchase from you multiple times, then start asking them if they are happy with your business. Tell them you’re constantly trying to improve your business and if they have any issues, they should let you know. This encourages open communication between a business and the customer.

If you have a customer who has previously bought many candles from you and they suddenly stop, ask them why. More importantly, ask your customers with every repeat purchase if there is any way you can improve your candles or your business.

The ground will never become dry enough to ignite if it’s constantly being watered.

4. Develop professional relationships with your customers.

In general, people will avoid speaking badly about people they know. So try to get to know your customers and they will be less likely to complain to others if something goes wrong. Also, business-to-customer relationships are important to retaining customers.

If you sell candles directly to people you meet, then make sure the face-to-face encounters are friendly. Ask them how they’re doing and get to know them a bit. If you sell your candles over the Internet, then you can always exchange emails, or better yet, send them thank you cards.

Fire won’t get going if there is nothing to burn.

5. Talk with your neighbors and non-customers.

Conversing with your non-customers is almost as important as communicating with your customers. If one of your customers has an issue and wants to publicly criticize your business, their complaints will fall on deaf ears to people who like you.

When you first get your business up and running, you’ll probably start selling to friends, family and neighbors. In the case of selling to neighbors, you should get to know all of your potential customers; even if they don’t buy from you. The more people who like you, the less people there will be to complain to.

Every once in awhile a nice little fire will start to build up. But if there’s nothing near the fire that’s susceptible to burning, then the fire will die out before it spreads.

Brief Recap

If you provide a faulty product or inadequate service, the customer will notice. If you don’t take precautionary measures to prevent the customer from becoming upset, they will be irritated. Negative WOM spreads much faster and has a much bigger impact on people’s judgment of your business than positive WOM. You should actively follow those 5 rules to prevent the fire from becoming wildly out of control.

More: How to Deal with Angry Customers

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Seth W June 28, 2009 at 10:43 pm

I really agree with #1 and #4. I find that quality products/services and strong and professional relationships will carry your business far.

People want to know they are getting something great from someone they trust!

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2 Nick Tart June 28, 2009 at 10:47 pm

Thanks, Seth. You’re absolutely right about professional relationships. There’s much less need to advertise if you network with and gain trust from the right people.

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3 Alex Fraiser June 28, 2009 at 10:43 pm

You just can’t beat Word of Mouth advertising! I agree with #4 and I am trying to build more relationships with people by commenting on my viewers blogs more. It has been something I have been neglecting to do, and I think it is weakening the relationship I have with others!

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4 Nick Tart June 28, 2009 at 10:48 pm

Hey Alex, thanks for the comment! I haven’t been commenting much on Blogussion lately but it’s only because I’ve been especially busy and I went camping for a few days. But I do appreciate the comment.

In your case, I think you could really benefit from developing professional offline relationships as well. I can’t imagine there are many successful local bloggers in your community, but you could always contact your local newspapers and ask for a story. I think you’ll find that reporters love to write about young people doing incredible things.

This is something I’m going to be working on over the next couple weeks.

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5 Alex Fraiser June 28, 2009 at 10:44 pm

Hey, no worries! You don’t need to explain yourself for not commenting, you can’t be there all day every day now! :p

I would love to talk to people offline other than my parents about what I do. I just don’t know anyone who is into the stuff I do, which sucks.

I could actually be considered an oddball in my community. I’m an avid blogger, and everyone else farms. Ahh, where did I come from!? xD

Reply

6 Nick Tart June 28, 2009 at 10:48 pm

Haha, that’s funny! I’ll send you an email.

Reply

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