Topic: Customer Behavior

Word Of Mouth And Customer Evangelism

Posted by Anonymous on 750 Points
This question concerns dealing with customers and setting in place a specific strategy to acquire / maintain / develop your customer base. It's a question for B2B, B2C, B2G, etc. in any industry although tactics might differ from one to the other.

I would be interested to know what practical steps you have taken, if any, in order to support or develop word-of-mouth and / or customer evangelism among your customers. i.e., What practical experience do you have in that field?

1) How did you go about it? Was it successful? How much of the impact where you able to measure? What 'tools' proved most useful (online forums, e-mails, interpersonal skills, etc.)?

2) And if you are staying away from it: is it because you can not identify evangelists among your customers? or because it doesn't apply to your industry? Are you concerned that you might turn your customers away by being involved and giving a commercial feel to spontaneous referral? or is it that it works just fine without you having to interfere?

3) Speaking of influence and getting involved:
- What are, in your opinion, the ethical implications of getting involved and supporting word of mouth from our customers for our products?
- Could that be ill-perceived by prospects? Could customers loose their credibility?
- Where do you draw the line between customer evangelist support and bribing?

Bottom line: are customer evangelism and word-of-mouth the new P's of marketing?

Thank you for your sound and practical advice.

Note: Sorry if this sounds like an essay question. I am just trying to get a better understanding of a complex issue.

[--- As a background to this question, I recently read the following article as well as a sample chapter from the book Creating Customer Evangelists ( ---]
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  • Posted by Pepper Blue on Accepted
    Hi Nicolas,

    Great question.

    As a small business, I look at customer evangelism as my best and least expensive (my time not counting) way to "keep the funnel full".

    I pride myself on giving much more service and added value to my customers than they expected. This is what really differentiates me from my competition - it is "me".

    In time, my customers realize this and being small business people they realize the value in evangelizing and are happy to do it without my having to solicit them.

    To further the cause I absolutely ask my customers to refer me and frequently ask them to update me on any colleagues they know who might get the same value out of my services as they do.

    I also send out an e-newsletter, the intent of it is keep subscribers up-to-date on digested information relating mainly to integrated marketing issues. Keep in front constantly and frequently, with content that is of interest and value.

    I offer my customers a free month of service if they refer a prospect to me that turns into a customer. This is an absolute win/win situation.

    I ask my customers if I can insert my name and a short promo message in the bottom of all their e-newsletters. They are all happy to oblige me here.

    I try to introduce my customers to each other when it makes business sense, when they can each benefit from a shared alliance, trade weblinks, barter services etc., or if I just think they have common interests that they might like to develop a friendship over.

    Absolutely for me word of mouth and customer evangelism is one of my marketing "P's" and I don't in any way think that there are unethical implications.

    If I'm not doing a great job, then I don't expect them to be evangelists.

    But, if I am exceeding expectations then I ask them to support me in any way they can.

    I believe people altruistically like to help people that help them.

    I hope that helps.

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