Both online and off, companies are doing everything they can to get their customers talking about them. Successful companies don’t set out for positive word of mouth; instead they look for feedback, great content and ways to evoke their brand in a unique way.
Here are five proven strategies on how to get customer feedback used by successful brands.
Ask, but mean it.
These days everyone is asking for feedback. Most retail receipts include a survey of some sort, as do many email clubs. How do you break through this in a creative way? Slater’s 50/50 Burgers by Design*, a growing restaurant concept in Southern California, found a fun and not-so-in-your-face way to reach fans. At every table in the restaurant, the server greets the guests and subtly slips a little card into the condiment holder. On that card is her name, both the company logo and Yelp’s logo, and the following… “We encourage our guests to Yelp! Away, but know we are here to help TODAY! Please inform our management team of your dining experience!” This company wants feedback, good or bad, and that is made clear in a creative way and reviews are responded to daily on Yelp.
Creating communities around progress.
Not many companies can effectively create a brand community that generates customer feedback, but Starbucks is one that can. Focused on building communities and social responsibility, with MyStarbucksIdea.com Starbucks has a powerful tool for both the organization and their fans. Anyone can submit ideas in three categories: Product Ideas, Involvement Ideas and Experience Ideas. Each idea can be discussed and voted up or down in the list, and Starbucks employees are active in the community. The coolest part? Starbucks reviews every idea (and marks it as so) and chooses a certain number a year to implement. You know those little green spill protectors that go in your cup when you drive? That idea came from this community.
For this to be successful for any company, you need passionate fans, a high level of company involvement, and most of all, a commitment to change. And not change what you think needs to be changed, but what your fans do.
No pressure, right? Chick-fil-A is not afraid to have a little fun with their annual “Cow Appreciation Day.” Fans who dress up as a cow receive a free sandwich. Sound intimidating? (I don’t have a cow outfit, do you?) They offer a free cow-kit to download and print, to help with your costume. A fun and accessible idea, and you can bet almost every one of those people took a photo and shared it. This works because the brand doesn’t take themselves too seriously. Another success story in this category is the beloved Old Spice campaign. Funny works, as long as it’s actually funny.
Evoke emotion (bad or good!).
How many advertisers spark emotion in you (besides annoyance)? It takes a powerful campaign to do so… Last summer Proctor & Gamble had moms across the globe tearing up with their “Thank you Mom” spots for the 2012 Olympics. The ads had almost no branding, but instead told stories that struck a deep chord with moms of any age. P&G wasn’t afraid of being accused of alienating a portion of their audience (men, women who aren’t mothers). It was a brilliant move aimed at the household product decision makers, and it worked. Don’t be afraid to target a section of your audience at one time. Remember, you can’t always please all of the people all of the time.
No, this isn’t the answer that will impact 100% of your fans, but if every employee surprised one person a day, imagine how many customers would go forth to spread the word about your brand! Recently there was a story in the news about a Red Robin employee who comped the meal of an expectant mother. Red Robin encourages “Unbridled Acts” and empowers their employees to show guest appreciation in creative ways. Zappos is another company who excels in this area, and we all know they sell happiness, not shoes. These days in a saturated media market, the truest way to reach a customer is by good old-fashioned going above and beyond. It doesn’t have to be about comping meals, but extra effort and showing kindness.
There’s no magic answer in getting consumers to talk about your brand or product. The real answer? Make it good, and people will talk. But you can encourage the conversation by being present, helpful and real.
*Disclosure: Author works with Slater’s 50/50, but this Yelp! idea wasn’t hers.