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MD Contractor to Education Sector

Customers Don’t Trust What You Say


Customers have become far more distrustful of “institutions”. But customers include us so let’s call customers “us, we”....just to make sure we use a powerful concept – putting yourself in your customers’ shoes.
So “we” are far less trusting of institutions. For institutions read: government, trade bodies, major corporations, smaller companies, indeed any group where a vested interest is perceived and where we are not associated with them directly.
It’s no great surprise that trust in institutions has continued to fall. We came blame lots of things: Irag War and the fictitious WMD, lies and cover-ups from the original Watergate to recent rugby “bloodgate” fiasco with Harlequins & Dean Richards, from irresponsible ministerial expenses to the diverse corporate scandals of Enron, VW and the collapse of the financial sector.
Against this background companies of all sizes need to be even more careful about their marketing messages and how they do it. Customers will increasingly only trust “institutions” to provide “irrefutable” facts. For example, they will accept information on the dimensions of a product, its technical capability as certified, and where you can buy it, but they are likely to discount “sales speak”. They are turning more to third party information – objective impartial advice from specialist press, experts and others – to check out products and services.
The web has increased massively our access to information from all sources. Specialist press and experts have websites reviewing all types of products and services. Comparison websites are hugely influential in certain sectors (e.g. car insurance).
More recently a highly potent source of independent views has developed through microblogs, providing real world experiences of the product or service by real customers. Testimonials have been included in many websites for some time (think hotel information), but microblogs provide real input from real people often with a strong “emotional” view – I hated it!..... I loved it!.....don’t touch it!’s amazing!
Why are microblogs so popular? The answer is simple: personal experience is highly relevant, particularly when it comes from “People Like Us” (PLUs) coupled, and web search engines makes it easy to get to what you want quickly. The comments are just a click away and PLUs are very credible; they live lives like ours and have similar values. They are like us, their views can be trusted, we don’t need so much to rely on brands
The key for all companies as we come out of this recession is to make sure you know how customers get information from the wide variety of sources available and how they use it to choose between products and services. You then need to adjust your communications and support accordingly.