Word of mouth is underrated

Regardless if we’re talking about an internet provider, a financial institution or just the sushi place around the corner, I must say I’m a sucker for good customer care. And who isn’t after all? As long as I love your product, your service is great and I feel that my value as a customer is both cherished and respected, then you win my loyalty. Not only that I will return, but I will also make sure to recommend the heck out of your business.

Because (1) I wholeheartedly believe in word of mouth and I trust it will help consumers make better choices and improve the overall customer service; and (2) I like to give back and I enjoy seeing great businesses thrive and bad businesses being taught a lesson.


On that note, I think there are thousands of companies that carelessly underestimate word of mouth and what its power can do to their business.

Taking a simple example at hand – cafes & restaurants in Amsterdam and the expat community here, which represents a huge potential customer base. Expats hang out with other expats, and taking into consideration that they have just moved to a new country and they’re new to the city, they will ask around for tips and places where people had a good time and they’re willing to recommend. There are no prints, no TV ads, no outdoor billboards, just some good old-fashion word of mouth marketing. And it works because people trust people.

Yet, you would be surprised of the number of places I come across in Amsterdam with a less than mediocre customer service, merely eager to make a quick buck. These are the same ones that expect to run their business as usual in the era of social media, online reviewing and as a whole, in an era of consumer empowerment. This is also why I praise websites such as booking.com or tripadvisor, because they give a voice to the consumers and have the power to promote great businesses and weed out the opportunists.

Enchanted consumers and word of mouth marketing are one of the most powerful media for businesses to promote themselves and gain new ones. And I think it boils down to simply caring and taking an interest in what your consumers are talking, seeing it as an investment and not as something nice to have. Listen to what they like and do more of that, listen carefully to what they don’t like, adjust and try again. They’ll appreciate it.

Wrapping up my rant with a great quote from The Thank You Economy by Gary Vaynerchuk, a book that I can’t recommend enough:

“Social media is a great tool for putting out fires, but it’s an even better tool for building brand equity and relationships with your customers. Once you stop thinking about it as a tool for shutting customers up, and rather as a tool for encouraging customers to speak up, and for you to speak to them, a whole world of branding and marketing opportunities will unfold.”

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