Before you make many of your purchases or decisions, do you perform online reconnaisance? Consider these stats cited in a recent eBook (Winning the Zero Moment of Truth) by Jim Lecinski, Google’s Managing Director of US Sales & Service:
-70% of Americans now say they look at product reviews before making a purchase
-79% of consumers say they use a smartphone to help with shopping
-83% of moms say they do online research after seeing TV commercials for products that interest them
The ZMOT, or “Zero Moment of Truth”, is the moment when you use online resources to learn more about something before you make a purchase or a decision. We now often use a variety of online sources, including ratings and review sites, friends and family via social networks, and videos. This includes both searches for information after we hear a specific brand name or company (such as “June’s Famous Bacon Chocolate Bar” or “XYZ Staffing Agency”) as well as for general products or experiences (“Chicago accountants”, “electric cars” or “bikram yoga”).
What are the components of a ZMOT?
-It’s online — usually starting with a search on Google, Bing, Yahoo, YouTube, review sites or any other search tool or engine.
-It’s in real time, at any time of the day or night, and it’s often mobile (The number of mobile searches on Google in 2010 doubled from 2009)
-It’s on the consumer’s terms
-It usually has an emotional component
-It’s a multi-way conversation: marketers, friends, strangers, websites and experts all have opinions and are competing for attention.
And just how much information are we consumers sifting through during the ZMOT? Shopper Sciences recently reported that we are seeking out 10.4 pieces of information per purchase in 2010, as compared to 5.3 pieces in 2009. That’s almost double in one year.
So, an ever-growing number of people are looking at a wider pool of data to make purchasing decisions. How do you as a small business owner win at the ZMOT?
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, you’ve got to take the time to increase your digital footprint. You want your products and services to be found in multiple places- on your website, review sites, local search directories, and social media sites. Give people an opportunity to share their opinions about what you are offering. Think like your searchers and make sure you have relevant keywords on your website and on your digital profiles. Have an active presence where your customers are searching during their ZMOT.
You’ll find a wealth of information and advice from Google in their ebook: www.zeromomentoftruth.com.
According to a study published by eMarketer in October 2010, consumers who are active on social media sites expect certain types of interactions when with dealing with companies and brands online. 77% of respondents expect to be offered incentives such as discounts, coupons or free products and services. 46% expect that they can receive product or service information, solve issues or file complaints. And 39% look for the ability to give their feedback on products and services. Only 21% looked to be marketed to in the form of banner or targeted ads.
You might be thinking that your business isn’t actually online because you don’t have an e-commerce site and you only have your brand up on Facebook and LinkedIn. You may also believe that those statistics do not apply to you because your typical customers aren’t that active in social media. And maybe they aren’t… yet. But remember that as consumers become more used to something, they are going to be expecting those types of interactions from every business that has an online presence. And that can be a great thing because the best customers are the ones who had a great experience with you and want to share with others.
Social media can be a great avenue for customer service- the kind that gives customers the positive experience that sells. Here are some ways that you can enhance your customer service through social media:
-Answer product or service-related questions
-Make special offers to your followers
-Invite customers to give feedback; share feedback from customers
-Give customers a way to contact you besides the phone or email
-Show your human side
-Give public (very public!!) apologies for missteps
-Share tips or valuable information related to your products or services
One of our favorite examples of a company that uses its Facebook page for customer service is mygofer.com.
If you hunt around, you’ll see plenty of other companies, large and small, that are using their social media accounts to provide customer service.
For a business to succeed in today’s age of technology, using what social media has to offer is one of the best things you can do. Of course, there are several obejctions that businesses give for why they aren’t using social media, but there are even more reasons why they should.
“Facebook and Twitter can’t really help my business.”
It can and will help your business. For many years, businesses relied solely on word-of-mouth. Most businesses were stuck using direct mail, the radio and print ads and they often couldn’t use much traditional marketing because it was too costly. When the internet came along, consumers were able find out about your company from the comfort of their own homes. However, people were only able to view what you displayed on your web page. Now, as technology has progressed, you and your customers are able to do more through social media. Sites such as Facebook and Twitter let people learn about you from others, connect in open conversations with you and find out what other people are saying. People can contribute to discussions where people can now humanize you, your associates, and your business as a whole. Relationship are built online and made stronger through social media.
“People will post negative comments about my business on my page.”
If people are posting negative comments about your business on your Facebook page, then they are posting negative comments elsewhere on the web. If you can actually read what they are writing about you, at least you have a chance to respond. You have the chance to give the person a reason to reconsider their opinion. If that doesn’t work, at least you will show others that you respond, care, and want to meet people’s needs. If you have several negative postings on your page, then this can also be positive. It tells you that you need to improve something, such as customer service. Take those comments and do something about them. You can then post to Facebook and Twitter that you acknowledged their concerns and have fixed them. Negativity by word-of-mouth was a lot worse. Businesses failed because of it. Today, however, because everything is instant, you can fix any issues or concerns immediately.
“I don’t know what to post on Facebook or Twitter.”
Here is a good thing to remember: 80% of the information should be helpful and informative, and 20% should be promotion. This means that 80% of your posts or tweets should be giving information such as fun facts about your type of business, helpful tips and hints, personal information on management or employees or any other interesting information. The other 20% is reserved for promoting your services. Start posting now and grow as social media grows. Your business should be using social media on a daily basis. Practice using Facebook and Twitter, learn from what your customers are saying and keep on going. It might be difficult at first, especially if you are uncomfortable with computers, but when you start seeing the results of what you have done, you’ll wonder why you didn’t do it sooner.