Social proof | KHWS

Social proof

Behavioural Insight

It’s no surprise companies prioritise referrals or recommendations in their business development strategy. A referral is free and proof that someone values your service so much so that after paying for it once they are compelled to share their positive experience through word of mouth or any of the multitude of communication channels at our fingertips today.

It’s called social proof, one of the known sales triggers whereby an emotional reaction – in this case ‘trust’ – can lead to a commercial one – a ‘purchase’. This re-assurance of seeing similarly satisfied customers is backed up by the fact that 92% of people will believe recommendations from friends or family over all forms of advertising.

Friends and family is one thing but many platforms commercialise the trust you can have in strangers. Only recently I chose a hotel in the Cotswolds based on the positive reviews from Jill Douglas from Derby. I don’t know Jill but she pulled me in with her review. The wonderful surroundings of the hotel sounded idyllic and when she hit me with the “traditional open fire place” I could almost hear the crackling of firewood. Then there was the “easy access from the M5”, the “really friendly staff” and the “best customer service ever”.

I really value good customer service. Partly because I expect it, partly because I always strive to ensure my clients are respected and catered for but mainly because poor customer service is enough for me not to go back to a supplier, whether it’s business or personal. During recent house renovations I had a builder who despite doing a good job on my property would never keep to appointments and sent me what I deemed as aggressive text messages ALL IN UPPER CASE. I also had a window firm who despite getting my order wrong twice and only delivered at the third attempt and a month later than planned, made me feel like it didn’t really matter, wouldn’t call back within a reasonable time or couldn’t be flexible to my diary.

These were two examples where the sales pitch was impressive (knowledge and rapport), the price was fair but once the transaction was agreed, my satisfaction didn’t matter so much. I didn’t feel valued as a customer and prompted the thought that I don’t want to give this firm any more of my money, or recommend them to any friends. I did consider sharing a negative review through social media or on trade search websites but I decided my efforts were best spent on constructive things.

But plenty of people do and many brands must rue the day they set up their twitter handle. What was intended as a channel for sharing all the latest news, products, offers and events has been hijacked by disgruntled consumers and seen by the brand’s 1000s of followers.

Social proof is the double edged sword. Look after your consumers and they will support you. Upset them and they will tell a far greater audience than you can imagine.