Sunday, April 22, 2007

WOM Extending Its Influence

The obvious question I’ve had while studying Word of Mouth is, “where will this all lead?” What areas will word of mouth impact and how will it be implemented? Apparently, one area where WOM will be a major player is on the internet. According to the DM News, (a newspaper for direct, interactive and database marketers) Word of Mouth will play a major role in the future of E-commerce. The article says that a panel of retail executives at Shop.org’s FirstLook conference. They have taken notice of how powerful user-generated reviews and interactive advertising content. Jacob Hawkins of Overstock.com said, “You have to engage your customer in a dialogue, so that they get used to hearing from you… If customers get used to conversing with you, then they will be likely to write about their positive experiences.” Additionally, he noted that bad reviews help them to avoid bad products.

It seems like, from what they are saying, e-commerce businesses are moving from listening and responding into the final level of involvement with their customers: joining in. I think that, being less established and entrenched in their ways than more traditional brick-and-mortar businesses, e-commerce companies are in a far easier position to do this. Because e-commerce is still relatively new, companies are still quite open to experimentation and testing out new approaches. While traditional companies would have to seriously alter their philosophies to include more customer input, it seems like a more natural step in the evolution of e-commerce.

Having worked for an e-commerce company myself, I can definitely attest to the high positive impact that consumer input can have. Customers often call customer service with concerns, questions, complaints, and suggestions and the company is able to take that input and make immediate changes to individual skus on the website. The impact is already profound and I believe this is only the beginning of word of mouth involvement. It is quite easy to see why the conference dubbed word of mouth as being the future of e-commerce.-->
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