The Power of Word of Mouth
Going through my 2016 figures last weekend, to my amazement I found that 92% of my business came from word of mouth referrals. Not that I’m blowing my own trumpet (ok, perhaps I am!), but that figure even took me by surprise. And then it got me thinking: why was it so high?
I was discussing it with Sarah, a previous client and marketing expert who said: “Alex, there are three things people value most: trust, communication and above all the knowledge that you will do what you say you are going to do. You have all of those nailed!”
Well, of course I blushed at the compliment (while secretly high-fiving myself under the table!) but joking aside, she is spot on with those three things. I believe they should be sacrosanct no matter what business you’re in, as it absolutely demonstrates that you care and have the needs of your client at the forefront of everything you do.
I bet you can think of a dozen times when we you’ve been let down in all of these areas – the builders who go AWOL half way through a project, the colleague who never responds to emails, customer services who say they’ll call you back, then don’t.
And what do you do when you are looking for a top notch restaurant or need to find a good tradesman for a job? You ask the people you know for help. As a result, you are more likely to use that trade/service, which has been recommended to you by a trusted source. Lower risk and no hassle.
The power of these three things were demonstrated very clearly in a recent client case of mine who was trying to sell her home. Before I became involved, she’d been promised a top service and marketing package by her previous estate agent. Through rose-tinted spectacles, she understandably envisaged a world in which her house was being fought over by a queue of adoring buyers, falling over themselves to secure her home.
The first six weeks went really well with viewings-a-plenty, and the agent did a solid job of keeping in touch. But when the property still hadn’t sold eight weeks later, it was as if the agent vanished into thin air. Suddenly she had to do all the chasing with phone calls and emails. She said it made her feel like a nuisance, which is the last impression a client should have!
Thankfully, a friend of hers recommended me and we quickly got to grips with the situation. Having upgraded the photography, overhauled the brochure, marketing, online entries, plus viewing arrangements and details behind the scenes, we were able to relaunch the property with renewed vigour. The agent was delighted to have additional ideas from a property consultant who had 15 years of experience, plus an increase in client contact. As a result, within five weeks of the relaunch we had secured a buyer on the right basis.
The client was delighted to have the agent back on the right terms with refreshed enthusiasm and myself keeping a proactive check on progress. However, the underlying problem lies where everything had gone amiss previously. The client told her friend, who mentioned it to another on Facebook, who then shared a post about it. Like a virus, the bad experience had been disseminated across hundreds of people within minutes. Whilst the end result was good, the damage had already been done.
As I see it, one should never lose sight of the power of word of mouth, whether you’re in business yourself or a client looking for a good product or service. A good reputation can take years to earn, but only a moment to lose.