Live From Etail: Let Customers Have their Say

Washington–If you want to keep the faith of your customers, let them talk about you. On your Website. That was the message Drew Wofford III, product manager – Webesphere Commerce for IBM Software Group, had for eTail 2008 attendees Aug. 5.

If merchants don’t incorporate customer comments on their own Websites, Wofford said, customers will start their own sites to talk about them.

Don’t believe it? Just ask Wal-Mart, which Wofford noted has to wade through several anti-Wal-Mart Websites.

“Embrace social communities, or your customers will create their own communities outside your Website,” Wofford said. “And it’s not something you will have any control over.”

Product reviews, Wofford said, are a must for all retailers with an online presence. “No one believes what we have to say about a product” in the copy used in product descriptions on Websites. “But when consumers talk with each other, they begin to trust,” he said.

And the social networks still need to be monitored, even if it’s on your own site.

“If a customer has a bad experience, he or she will tell three other people,” Wofford said. “But if you proactively fix a bad situation, he or she will tell five other people and become an advocate for your brand.”