How to Get Customers to Spread the Good Word

by Linda Pophal


wrote a post recently about the value of positive public relations compared to other ways of generating awareness and preference for organizations. I made the point that what others say about us (e.g. positive word-of-mouth) is always more impactful than what we say about ourselves. One reader followed up with a question: “So how do we get our satisfied customers/alumni to talk about us more?”

This was my response:

Ask them to?

Actually, I’m only being somewhat facetious; I don’t think it’s a bad idea to ask (or remind) satisfied customers to share their experiences with others.

However, a couple of other things come to mind here:

If I were working with your organization, I would first want to see some actual customer data, trended over time, to get a real sense of how your organization is perceived. You may be absolutely right and have lots of satisfied customers, which is great—but you may be unaware of certain issues, interactions, etc., that might be leaving customers less than satisfied.

Another key point here is that, in the competitive environment we all operate in, we really have to go beyond “satisfying” customers to “delighting” them. Satisfaction they likely take for granted. To nurture brand ambassadors who will talk about you to others, you need to really “wow” them.

Still, we can all think of organizations that simply inspire viral word-of-mouth, and that’s what we all should be striving for. Face it. If we have something exceptional to offer that is really “wowing” our audiences, we shouldn’t have to ask them to spread the good word about it—they should already be doing it.

Think about those organizations, products and services that you spontaneously talk about to others. What prompts you to do that for them, especially when you consider companies where you don’t automatically spread the word?

What someone else says about you will always be more impactful than what you say about yourself—that’s true of both individuals and organizations. For both, the challenge then becomes delivering such exceptional experience that they will WANT to spread positive word-of-mouth about you—even if you don’t ask them to.

And, yes, you should ask (or at least encourage) your satisfied or “wowed” customers to spread the word on your behalf.

What do you think? In what ways do you fuel positive word-of-mouth about your organization and its offerings?

Recommended Reading

The Everything Guide to Customer Engagement

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