We do a lot of work that relates to customer experience, looking at how those experiences translate to loyalty. We use various metrics to gauge the results of the consumer experiences and translate them to purchase and recommend intent. Most of the time our clients have launched a targeted campaign and we come in to help them figure out whether it’s working, or not. But what happens when it isn’t the clients marketing efforts that are reaping the highest benefits? What about word of mouth?
Outside of PortMA projects, I frequently wonder how a news story or regular interaction is inadvertently shaping the future of a company’s business. I say inadvertently because there’s no actual campaign to measure. Both parties in the conversation probably/hopefully recognize that the conversation will have some impact on the business, but it’s through regular everyday contact. As humans we share our opinions with friends and family – we want them to get great service or avoid getting ripped off.
It Starts with a Simple Paragraph
I belong to a local Facebook group that’s designed just for this purpose. It’s called Bringing Derry Together and it’s a place where people seek recommendations for local businesses. The other day someone named Joanna shared a post from a few towns over. A local Dunkin Donuts employee had provided great service. Apparently the employee had really made Joanna’s day and she was giving an anonymous shout-out. Here’s an excerpt of what she said:
“I felt the need to share this with all of you, and perhaps make this man go viral. Last week I got an iced coffee at Dunkin Donuts around 7:30am. Later on that day I saw the same man walking but was unable to pick him up or I would have been late for work myself. Little did I know, he was walking 8 1/2 miles to his second full time job at the Big Apple [a convenience store] for his graveyard shift. I stopped at the Big Apple on my way home from work around 10:45pm to see if he could use a lift home while I grabbed gas, but he politely declined, stating he worked another 3+ hours closing.”
Fast Forward a Few Days…
Someone else knew this kid, and liked him. His name is Kyle, he has two jobs, no car, and walks 16ish miles per day.
…….6,000 Facebook shares.
Erika W replies, “I know him. He’s a good kid & always makes me laugh when he is working & I don’t think I have ever heard him complain!”
……….Thousands more Facebook shares.
Add Fuel to the Fire and The Story Ignites!
Sean R from AutoFair replies, “Joanna, the next time you see this gentleman please give him my information. I’m going to help him out with a car if he is interested. I have some that are very low cost and I love to help good people out in any way I can. He can call or email me. My # is (603) 555-#### and email is firstname.lastname@example.org”
Next thing you know, this post has officially gone viral at 20,000 shares. Well, honestly I really don’t know what the official definition of viral is but this many shares qualifies it in my book. Also, AutoServ of Tilton (a different dealership) has given Kyle a Honda Accord after hearing this story.
So, two regular humans from separate car dealerships (that we know of) were touched and offered to help. Within a few more days The Today Show decided to do a piece on this feel-good story. The Huffington Post has also done a story: Man Who Walked 16 Miles To 2 Jobs Gets A Car, Thanks To Facebook and rumor has it that People Magazine and Ellen are interested as well.
That’s how it works, folks.
That’s real-life word-of-mouth in action. In another blog I’ll probably measure the ROI for this story using the Keller Fay methodology (retail sector). That would be the official “experiential event marketing” approach, which can be readily applied to measure the impact on potential customers. For now, I kind of thought this local, real-life experience was a good demonstration of how positive, everyday communication can spread like wildfire. In this instance, we saw an amazing thing happen because people and companies came together and pooled resources for good. I’m sure Kyle would agree and I have high hopes that this will pay off in spades for both car dealerships.
By the way, my brother, Greg, manages AutoServ’s service department. It’s also where we got my daughter’s Toyota Corolla before all this hullaballoo happened. So, if you’re in New Hampshire and you have vehicle needs, check them out!
I added that last paragraph to further demonstrate the reach and impact of positive perceptions. I’m proud that my brother works for a company that would support a hard-working community member. When people think good things about your business, or brand, chances are they’ll spread the word. Leaving a good impression about your company or your brand will go a long way, and won’t cost you a thing. Reputation speaks highly to consumers and fellow businesses alike.