Let the 'Voice of the Customer' Drive Bottom Line Results
By Mark Johnson President, Loyalty 360 - The Loyalty Marketer's Association | December 2010
"Voice of the customer"
It's a phrase that's getting a lot of play these days. As avenues for customer input and interaction - forums, blogs, social networking sites, online reviews, etc - are growing exponentially, the opportunity for guests to rave about great hotel experiences or vent about bad ones are more prevalent than ever. This in-the-moment ability to get into their customers' heads gives marketers the proverbial crystal ball look into their needs, wants, likes, dislikes, etc. The question many marketers have, however, is how to use this voice of the customer feedback to drive bottom line business results.
The answer is twofold: Listen and Act
Step one - Listen, and I mean really LISTEN. Not in a lip service fashion, but listen with the belief that there is wisdom in crowds. Listen with the purpose that small is the new big. One blogger, one reviewer, one online community not addressed can have serious impacts on a brand.
To stress further the value of listening to the online chatter about your hotel, consider these findings from travel market researcher PhocusWright. The firm found that social networking is one of the most powerful forces driving travel planning today, with social media use among travelers growing far faster than the travel industry itself. Unique monthly visitors to social travel sites jumped 34% between the first half of 2008 and the last half of 2009.
A survey in March 2010 by The Nielsen Company of more than 27,000 Internet users in 55 markets from Asia Pacific, Europe, Middle East, North America and South America also found that online reviews and peer recommendations played a key role for shoppers researching future travel purchases. Pity the brand that consumers don't like: a whopping 41% of online consumers said they are more likely to share a negative product experience online via posting on Twitter or writing a review.