“You’re wasting your time. There’s no money in customer reviews.”
The year was 2000. I’d just left Leeds university. I was 22 years old.
I wanted to start a business that would capture what customers had to say about a business and then pass that feedback to management so that they could improve their service.
I don’t remember who told me that there was no money to be made from customer reviews, but I knew different.
I wanted to make it easy for customers to go to a website and provide an honest review of their experience with a business. I wanted to encourage customers to provide feedback and persuade the businesses to be open to that feedback. This would provide us with an opportunity to understand what the customers really wanted and turn that into specific action steps for the company to implement so they could improve what they do.
The Internet was still new. Social media didn’t exist.
This was when people would still phone each other up to ask to ask if they’d received the email they’d sent.
And I was being told that there was no money in reviews.
I was ahead of my time.
Flash forward 15 years and reviews are everywhere. And, I would propose, that we’ve barely scratched the surface of how important the customer’s opinion will be 20 years from now.
Technology has made it so much easier for customers to educate themselves about their options, and share opinions with others. Who knows where technology will take customer power in 2 decades?
Yet there are businesses that are still blind to this development or are only beginning to realize that the customer needs to be at the center of everything they do.
I’ve always been mad about customer service. I always knew that if a business would take the time to listen to their most difficult customers and act on their feedback, they would make all of their customers happy.
I knew I wasn’t the only person who was willing to pay more than the cheapest provider wanted if it would get me better service.
Back then, there was no social media to sing the praises of a great company or vent my frustrations with a bad business.
Today, businesses are using social media to listen out for bad experiences and put them right. In some cases it’s just P.R. and damage limitation. In others, it’s from a true desire to provide good service and give the customer a positive experience.
We’ve come a long way from the patent medicine ads of 100 years ago or the Mad Men era of 50 years ago.
It’s not advertising any more.
Marketing is evolving.
It’s not even marketing any more.
It’s about being a part of people’s lives – being a part of the story they tell.