As described in chapter 7 of Groundswell, energizing means tapping into the power of word of mouth, by connecting with your most committed customers (Li & Bernoff, 2011). Word of mouth is successful because it’s believable, it’s self-reinforcing, and it’s self-spreading (Li & Bernoff, 2011).
Word of mouth is super honest, whether what people are saying is good or bad, as it is not coming from your direct employees. It’s previous and current customers talking about your services and products. This form of energizing has become so powerful that companies are willing to pay critics to talk about their company (Li & Bernoff, 2011).
Techniques for Connecting With Energizing Enthusiasts
There are 3 basic techniques a company could use in order to connect with their enthusiastic energizers:
- Tap into customers enthusiasm with ratings and reviews This works best for companies with direct customer contact, like the retail or hospitality business (Li & Bernoff, 2011). People will buy your products, and then review them online for the world to see. Encourage those who love your products to get online and write reviews to get your company ratings up, and drive business.
- Create a community to energize your customers
This technique works best for customers that are truly passionate about your products, and have an affinity for each other, especially in the business to business setting (Li & Bernoff, 2011).
- Participate in and energize online communities of your brand This technique is used when there are already online communities created by people that are not associated with your company. When these communities are already thriving, it is best to join them instead of starting a new one. They’ve already done all the work, now its just time to start communicating!
Techniques for Applying Energizing to Your Company
- Figure out if you want to energize the groundswell
Energizing isn’t for everyone, so the first thing you will need to do is listen to your customers. Figure out what they are saying about your company and products, whether good or bad, and see if you want to pursue. The benefits are great however, and you get to hear and see what people are thinking.
- Check the social technographics profile of your customers You need to determine where on this ladder your customers are in order to really embrace the groundswell community, and ensure you are communicating in the right area. Theres no point trying to push people to write reviews and blogs about your company if they are only spectators on the ladder!
- Ask yourself, “what is my customers problem?” It’s rare that communities form themselves around your products. Again, listen to your customers and see which problems are arising, and then go in the direction you need too.
- Pick a strategy that fits your customer’ social technographics profile and problem Make sure you know your customers technographic profile, and build a strategy based on that. If your customers are spectators or conversationalists, its best to get on social media sites and start conversations through those!
- Don’t start unless you can stick around for the long haul A community is something that needs constant care and monitoring. If you don’t have someone that can take care of this then maybe it’s not a good thing to begin.
Energizing in the Restaurant Biz
In the hospitality and restaurant industry, in my opinion the best technique for connecting with your energizers from the 3 listed above would be to tap into the reviews and ratings. One of our main goals is to keep customers coming back, and while there’s only so much advertising we can do to keep people coming in to the restaurant, we can use those already regular, energized customers to do it for us. We can encourage people to go on review websites like TripAdvisor, OpenTable, or Tomato and write reviews for everyone to see.
Figure 7-1 taken from Groundswell describes the different sources people trust. At the top of the list is recommendations at 73%, so we can see that word of mouth is a super powerful tool that restaurants can also count on. Embracing every customer that walks through those doors and give them an unbelievable experience will hopefully encourage people to talk to their friends about their experience and bring in new customers.
Consumer ratings and reviews fall third in the list at 62%, which is still a good amount. This is why encouraging the regular customers, or even those that enjoyed their experience to review online will be a good ROI. I currently work for a restaurant that puts an advertisement in all the bill folds that encourages people to write a review, and provides the website that they can go to. This way when the customer is paying their bill, they see the card and will remember (and hopefully go on to) write a review.
From personal experience I am also one to go on review sites to check what people are saying about a restaurant before I visit. I do trust what people say and it definitely helps my decision whether to visit or not depending on what they are saying. From this, along with working in the restaurant industry and knowing how important word of mouth and reviews are, it’s something I encourage all restaurant managers to implement energizing into their strategies.
Until next time!
Li, C., Bernoff, J. (2011). Groundswell: Winning in a world transformed by social technologies. Boston, MA: Harvard Business Review Press.