The Challenge and Opportunity of WOM Relevance

by Jeannie Walters

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Will Work for Relevance by Steve HeathI had a post I was supposed to get out yesterday. But it didn’t feel right. How can I discuss the amazing take-aways I learned from SOBCon over the weekend when Sunday night happened? There my husband and I were, up too late after having a houseful of family for our 4-year old’s birthday party, watching President Obama announce news we had (almost) given up on hearing.

What could I say on Monday that could – or, perhaps more importantly, should – break through the din of American flag waving and the tweet that launched a thousand journalists?

Osama. Dead. Our brave guys coming out of it safely.

THAT was the conversation.

I quickly took the post down. (I promise I’ll post it this week.)

And herein lies the challenge. We have all this great technology which helps us schedule and push out updates, photos, videos, blog posts, newsletters and more content content content. We “set it and forget it,” moving on with the other 156 things on our to-do lists.

But all that automation is worth diddly and squat if it’s not relevant. And many, many things are NOT. Word-of-mouth power is in the relevance of the conversation. And if it’s way off, guess what? You, and your company, your blog, your point-of-view, seems tone deaf. It is obvious you are not listening – just pushing, promoting and forcing conversations that don’t feel authentic or relevant.

While some brands become the conversation (hello, i-anything launch!), many are trying to figure out what WOM is all about. It’s a huge challenge, but also an opportunity.

We are in the midst of amazing times. When was the last time you heard anything relevant on the local evening news? By then, the news is old and you heard it straight from the horse’s mouth on Twitter, then quickly discussed it with your friends on Facebook. (In fact, Gini Dietrich wrote a really good post about how social media spread the news of Bin Laden’s death.)

Word-of-mouth is so many things. It’s social media and your best friend and discussing the cool gadget that stranger has on the train. It is product samples and blog comments and employee town halls and everything in between. And each of these has to work together as part of your overall customer experience.

And each of these things must be relevant. Relevance is fleeting, because what’s relevant one day might not be the next. How do you stay relevant?

Photo Credits: Steve Heath (illustration) & John McNab



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Jeannie Walters

Jeannie Walters is the CEO/Founder of Experience Investigators, a global Customer Experience consulting firm. She has 20 years of experience helping companies improve loyalty and retention, employee engagement, and overall customer experience. Jeannie is a Certified Customer Experience Professional (CCXP,) a charter member of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA,) a Professional Member of the National Speakers Association, LinkedIn Learning instructor, TEDx speaker, and President-Elect of the National Speakers Association Illinois chapter. Learn more here.

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