September 2009 TRANSPARENCY TRIUMPH
via trendwatching.com by firstname.lastname@example.org on 8/30/09
What is transparency? Transparency has been described as “seamlessness.” An illustration of transparency would be in the links to Amazon and Professional Reviews found at the bottom of of a record in your catalog. Any title information, subject headings, and shared lists links are also transparent. The line between product presentation and reviews/other information is seamless.
In libraries, we’ve known for some time that customers and potential customers usually go to friends and family first for information. Now this trend has moved to the internet
Some telling findings from the latest twice-yearly Nielsen Global Online Consumer Survey of over 25,000 online consumers from 50 countries:
"Recommendations by personal acquaintances and opinions posted by consumers online are the most trusted forms of advertising globally. The Nielsen survey shows that 90% of online consumers worldwide trust recommendations from people they know, while 70% trust consumer opinions posted online.
In other words, reviews are advertising. Librarians have used reviews for years to make selection decisions. Now the rest of the world is, too.
In short, businesses have to understand and accept that consumers’ decision making processes, which ultimately come down to whether they will buy from you or from someone else, have truly shifted to a new, powerful peer-to-peer arena.
This is important to libraries. Libraries have a reputation. Some of it is good. Some of it is bad. Reviews of our library are out there. Search Twitter for “library” or “central library” tweets within 5 miles of the building. These tweets are telling the story about what customer experience is. They are reviewing us.
If your library uses twitter for promotion, those will be obvious. You'll also find positive tweets about storytime and research success. There may also also negative tweets abbreviated hours and some of your library users - or staff. For a few days in June, one tweeter had a string of tweets about the library “hobos.” While the tweets were humorous, they are a review of the environment inside the building. And it wasn't good.
The reviewing trend will only get bigger.
While hundreds of millions of consumer reviews are already zipping around cyberspace, prepare for a deluge of truly biblical proportions. 1.6 billion consumers are now online, and the majority of them have been online for years. They're skilled bargain seekers and ‘best of the best’ hunters, they're avid online networkers, and they're opinionated reviewers and advisors.
And for future contributors and viewers, especially those that are born to the web, for whom contributing and sharing is a given, reviewing will be a way of life forever
Reviewers Are Rewarded
Applications...enable reviewers to have their reviews effortlessly appear on their Facebook, Digg or Delicious pages as well, while Netflix has hooked up with Facebook to allow users' reviews to be shared on their profile pages.
Members that post a review on Epinions are rewarded with so called Eroyalties credits, which are in turn are based on an ‘Income Share’ program...Reviewers then can redeem their Eroyalties credits in US dollars
Truth and Lies
Rewarding reviewers for their opinions? Libraries have known that the information customers get from friends, family, and the internet can be misinformed or biased. Trendwatching expects the Deluge-Effect to solve the problem:
The deluge in postings will also unmask, outnumber and thus neutralize fake reviews posted by malicious consumers or desperate brands. Which will lead to an even greater trust of recommendations and reviews. In the near future, consider the discussion on whether to trust reviews to be over
Scale is one thing. Scope is another. No [Business to Customer] sector is immune to the review virus. Expect every industry, every sector, every product to eventually succumb to reviews.
Again, how is the library faring in these reviews? How do we know?
Consider Twitter and camera phones. Instantaneous reviews are part of the Deluge-Effect:
...as more people are contributing, the sheer mass of reviews will in effect lead to daily if not hourly reviews on any topic imaginable. Which means more timely and accurate information.
...as universal online access meets netbooks, laptops, and phones, virtually all equipped with (video) cameras and audio capture, we're already seeing an increase in on-the-spot reviews, from text to full-blown videos. Remember, someone going through an annoying or pleasant experience, but lacking online access, has to postpone his or her review, which often results to not posting at all
See the place on the internet map? See the review. Done deal
Right of Reply
So far, reviewing has been one-way. Customers review the product or service. Expect to see businesses and libraries respond to the review. How will the library prepare for this? Immediacy is important. How do we get our side of the story out there? How do we use reviews as an opportunity to turn the review on its head and promote a solution?
Quite a few brands still seem to believe that they’ve been granted an eternal ‘grace period’ when it comes to dealing with [reviews]. While brands are no longer unaware of reviews, they (to a large degree) still choose to listen, not talk back, trying to ‘learn’ from the for-all-to-see Review (R)Evolution. Which is surprising, to say the least, since a quick and honest reply or solution can defuse even the most damaging complaint.
You, the front-line employee can nip bad reviews in the bud:
May we humbly remind you that bad reviews are not the problem, but a symptom? Not listening to (dissatisfied) customers is often at the root of the problem. Consumers don’t post their bad experiences straightaway. Most will notify you or one of your colleagues first. It’s mismanagement of complaints and conflicts that invokes postings. Whether it’s someone at your helpdesk, someone in your stores, or an account manager; there’s virtually always an opportunity to settle an issue before it goes public. And if you really screw up, beat customers to the punch by being the first to report failures. Let customers know how you fix problems. Eventually, this will free up resources and energy to actively focus on enabling happy customers to post positive reviews. Now that's TRANSPARENCY TRIUMPH
… in a transparent world, for both brands and consumers, settling for anything that's sub-par becomes a choice, not an accident. And yet, it’s still early days for TRANSPARENCY TRIUMPH. Changes in behavior and in technology all point towards an even more transparent marketplace in the near future, which in turn is taking cues from a more transparent society.