People are talking about your products. But more importantly, they’re listening. Facebook, Twitter, review sites, and product forums are just a few of the sources that a savvy customer checks when making a buying decision. This reality has fundamentally changed the definition of quality. It’s no longer sufficient to conform to specifications and pass end-of-line audits. Products must meet or exceed customer expectations or people will tell the world about it. Leading manufacturers are taking advantage of this untapped pool of customer insight to reduce the cost of quality, increase customer satisfaction, and strengthen brand image.
Your prospective customers are listening. Whether purchasing a product or a service, peer reviews and recommendations have a substantial impact on buying decisions - more substantial than your advertising. Recent research has documented this impact:
- 90% of consumers trust peer recommendations; Only 33% trust advertisements.1
- 71% of consumers are more likely to make a purchase based on social media referrals.2
- 86% of consumers said their buying decisions were influenced by negative online reviews.3
That begs the question: Are you listening? If you’re not, at least you’re not alone. According to an Industry Week study4, only 4% of quality departments were using feedback gathered through open, internet-based systems. That was in spite of the fact that around 50% saw value in using social media data for early warning, prioritization, and setting quality standards.
If you’re in the 50% that still have trouble seeing the value, here are a few thought starters:
- Early Warning: Customers will complain online even before they contact your call center or file a warranty claim. Those complaints can provide early warning signals weeks earlier than traditional methods.
- Perceived Quality: Some “quality” issues aren’t defects at all, but that doesn't mean they don't annoy customers. Customers are more than happy to spread their negative opinions and damage your brand, whether the product conformed to specifications or not.
- Prioritization: Problem solving resources are tight. There are always more issues than there are people to work on them. Knowing which issues have the biggest customer impact can help focus attention and optimize those limited resources.
- New Product Launch: It can take months to receive warranty claims and survey responses after a new product launch. However, online reviews and comments start rolling in days or even hours after launch, providing precious insight that can help you understand customer perceptions and respond appropriately.
- Competitive Intelligence: Your data are out there; so are your competitors'. Understanding how your competitors’ products and components are perceived gives you valuable intelligence that isn’t available from traditional quality sources.
Act now; customers are not standing by
Your customers are talking about your products now, whether you’re listening or not. The data are out there and the analytics to make sense of them are available. Manufacturers like Lenovo are listening already – and they’re reaping the rewards.
What’s the next step you need to take? This Perceptual Quality white paper provides more details on how to take advantage of social media and web-based data. Next week, I’ll go into detail about how Lenovo is using analytics to reduce the cost of quality, increase customer satisfaction, and strengthen brand image. For more tips on improving field quality, read: 5 Proven Ways to Improve Field Quality Performance.
1 Influencer Marketing: Stats and Quotes You Need to Know by Lucy Hitz
2 71% More Likely to Purchase Based on Social Media Referrals by Mike Ewing
3 The impact of customer service on customer lifetime value by ZenDesk
4 IndustryWeek survey of 422 manufacturers