Monday, August 20, 2012

Have Shoppers Share Word-of-Mouth with You

We think of word-of-mouth (WOM) reviews as occurring among family and friends, but it also could include a trusted salesperson telling a shopper about the salesperson’s experiences. Or the other way around, with the shopper sharing with the salesperson the shopper’s reviews.
     Research findings indicate this last alternative can have special value for the retailer. The researchers from New York University, Northwestern University, SDA Bocconi School of Management, and Luiss University were struck by inconsistent findings about WOM. Many studies concluded that consumers are more willing to share negative than positive experiences, but other studies came out with opposite findings.
     The researchers’ analysis:
  • When customers are talking about their own experiences, they want to impress others as wise shoppers, so they emphasize the positive. They may reflect on how they negotiated through the negatives. The overall agenda is to brag on the upside. 
  • On the other hand, when customers are asked to talk about experiences they’ve heard others have had, they become more interested in gossiping. They’ll share the negatives. This is, again, from a desire to look like wise shoppers. In this situation, it’s with the objective of looking wiser than others. 
     Previous research—at University of Maryland and Yale University—indicates that if we can have the shopper talk about those positive experiences before leaving the store, the upbeat feelings will linger. Putting all this together, my suggestion is to have sales staff ask customers, after a purchase, to share reviews of the product, brand, and store.
     Here are implementation ideas:
  • It works best when the salesperson is genuinely interested in hearing and remembering what the shopper has to say. The information can be passed on to other store staff. However, the evidence is that this WOM information, obtained immediately post-purchase, is likely to have a positive bias to it. Keep this in mind when deciding how to use the information. 
  • It’s fine when there are negatives along with the positives. In fact, encourage shoppers to give mixed WOM reviews to others. Based on research from the Free University of Berlin, one important key in establishing trust is that the WOM communication include at least some criticisms or concerns about what is being recommended. If everything’s coming up bright lights and lollipops, it seems phony. 
  • To preserve the positive, give shoppers materials they can take away with them as conversation starters to share with family and friends. 
For your profitability: Sell Well: What Really Moves Your Shoppers

Click below for more: 
Encourage Specifics & Criticism in Word-of-Mouth 
Attend to Face-to-Face Word-of-Mouth 
Avoid Locking In Bad Moods

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