Is Being Transparent With Customers Overrated?
Take a cue from Domino's when considering how open you should be with customers on the web.
We hear frequently how important transparency is in the realm of social media, particularly when it comes to the businesses we plan to interact with and buy from. As consumers investing in these products and services, we demand that businesses be honest with us about their features and functions, as well as potential pitfalls.
And yet we rarely invest our trust completely in the manufacturers, retailers, and other providers of these goods and services. We value their opinions, but ultimately, we know they have a goal: to sell to us. So we also seek the feedback of others who have purchased and used their products. The first thing we do is search online to see what others who have purchased these products and services have to say. Edelman, with its annual Edelman Trust Barometer survey, introduced us to the notion that people trust people like themselves. While the percentages have dropped slightly in the last couple of years (43% in 2011 compared with 47% in 2009), the fact remains that we as consumers trust complete strangers' opinions of a product or service over those of the actual provider.
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Where those opinions come from does matter. In a 2011 research study, Inside The Buy, AMP Agency discovered that 43% of consumers always do research before making a purchase, and a whopping 72% are searching for consumer reviews and feedback before making that purchase decision. More than half of those consumers surveyed are influenced the most by online consumer and product reviews.
As a brand, you can ignore consumer-generated content--or you can enable it. Domino's Pizza got a lot of grief for its Domino's Pizza Turnaround campaign back in 2009. Some said it was being too transparent by basically admitting that its pizza hadn't been up to par. Domino's was putting forth what some considered brand damaging customer quotes, such as "the crust tastes like cardboard," in its marketing materials and videos. Domino's even created a website to syndicate and solicit feedback--both good and bad.
From my perspective, Domino's was right on point. It didn't try to cover honest customer feedback or launch into a bunch of marketing fluff on how great its ingredients are, though that would have been the far easier move. It didn't try to change people's minds without action, or just tell them they were wrong. Instead, it took the feedback and used it to improve its products.
Domino's was smart enough to know that the feedback it was seeing was already rampant on the web and informing purchase decisions. It was smart enough to listen and make changes based on what its customers valued. It was smart enough to admit its mistakes and move forward with improvements. When you consider that Domino's stock traded under $9 a share when the company released that first video, and it now trades around $23, you'd have to conclude that it did the right thing.
What are you doing to help your customers share their feedback and to acknowledge that you're listening?
Jamie is VP of social media at AMP Agency, which inspires brands with integrated digital and experiential marketing, where she leads the development and execution of strategic social media solutions for clients across a range of digital and social channels. Jamie is a founder and member of the board of directors of the Community BackChannel, a community for and by community professionals. She also serves on the board of directors for the Social Media Club, Boston Chapter, and the Enterprise 2.0 Conference. You can connect with her online at her blog, Social Media Musings, or via Twitter @JamiePappas
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