What strikes me is that the Internet has rendered the word-of-mouth marketing variable extremely efficient.
Years ago there was a so-called rule of thumb that if someone had a bad customer experience, he’d share his experience with, on average, 10 other people.
I have no idea if that is fact or myth, but for the sake of argument suppose it’s accurate.
Each of those 10 people, in theory, might pass the anecdote along — but like the kid’s game of “telephone,” it is likely to lose some of its impact, and perhaps be distorted outright, after it’s been passed down the line a couple times from its original source.
Contrast that with how things work today. Today the original story — with all its hair-raising details — can be shared with the click of a mouse — not only to people you meet physically, but to hoards of total strangers. And since it’s passed along intact, it loses none of its impact.
Delta’s customer base, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, comprises 11.2 percent of the 659 million Americans who will fly in 2007. Instapundit gets what, 100K hits a day? And that’s only the people who see Professor Reynold’s original post — you also have to add in the people who visit when he brings the story up again, plus the people who visit all the sites who link to his story, like LB’s Rambles did today. Seems to me that could easily add up to a measurable impact on Delta’s business. It’s not like these airlines enjoy big fat margins after all.
This is about more than the need to monitor what bloggers are saying about your company. This is about a change in the variables that can impact a company’s reputation and, ultimately, its bottom line. And there’s only one fix — prevention. Good customer relations has to be a top corporate priority, because once you’ve broken faith with the wrong person, it’s too late, you’ve just opened a vein and the red ink is starting to pour.
[tags] blogging, customer relations [/tags]