Luna Park, a theme park in Sydney, Australia, has implemented an application that integrates smart phones, bar code readers, photo taking devices, Facebook and email to provide a real time feed of what users are doing at the theme park to their Facebook friends plus a summary of the day. It’s called My Experience. During the day, there are posts to your friends on what rides you are taking and a picture of you on a ride and a score on how ‘daring’ you are. What is this? It’s a testimonial for the theme park. Indirectly, the act of posting a stream of actions taken by users is providing their friends word of mouth feedback using Facebook that they are having fun and after the fact, that they had fun, at Luna Park. Or they can send an email to their friends with a summary. Great word of mouth!

A testimonial or referral from a customer is one of the best forms of marketing. It is not uncommon for businesses to want to post customer testimonials everywhere they can to encourage others to buy: advertising, store signage, press releases, websites. Watch a video on this new technology and technique adopted by Diesel Jeans. As most Facebook users have more than 100 friends on average, this technique provides word of mouth reference spread to over 100 friends in seconds with just a few pushes of a button from a smart phone or using a service like SnapmyInfo for regular cell phones with a camera. Do you know anyone that doesn’t leave home with their mobile phone? Consumers have the ability to easily provide referrals for your product, 7 days a week, 24 hours a day.

The consumer has been given the freedom to provide feedback on any product or service they acquire though new types of review sites and new web and mobile techniques. For every action, there is a reaction and I recently came across a few articles describing how various organization are attempting to block the consumer’s right to share information. Openness, Communication and Accountability, the 3 elements of transparency, are better approaches.

Customer testimonials and references are key indicators of customer satisfaction. They have the extra benefit of driving word of mouth advertising. A trend has evolved over the past few years where companies don’t gather the references and distribute them, the customers do. Organizations like Yelp helped strangers share reviews with each other. A more recent trend using sites like Facebook Places, Foursquare and Gowalla allow friends to share where they are visiting, creating a dynamic reference system.

Of the key trends in 2011 will be mobile and mobile applications. Mobile is a fast growing marketing and customer satisfaction force. When an early adopter in an industry starts to use Texting, mobile applications and mobile QR, 2D or Stickybits code, it raises the bar for competitors. The table stakes get raised and customers EXPECT all businesses in the same industry to offer the same or better or a much lower price!

Word of mouth (and with the internet, this has become World of Mouth) is having a bigger and bigger effect on who customers chose to do business with. One of the key sources of information consumers use today are ‘reviews’ (in customer satisfaction terminology- ‘testimonials or references’). Here’s an interesting technique to help an organization gather reviews: Run a contest. Check out what Lenovo, a PC Manufacturer is doing.

Facebook has just announced Deals for Places, a way for local businesses to attract new customers to their location and to reward loyal customers. Using the power of the 500 Million users on Facebook, customers who check in to a business tell all their friends and family where they have been, effectively creating a testimonial for that location. This post covers why a business should be interested, what kinds of deals are available, how to get started and what to do first.

Ensuring an organization has References and Testimonials for its products and services is a well established customer satisfaction best practice. A new trend in the industry is accessing these on line and now through mobile phones. Pictures of actual reviews on mobile phones (smart and regular cell phones) are included in the article.

Social media added new complexities to customer satisfaction strategies and processes and Mobile adding another new dimension. Mobile phones are being used by consumers to choose local businesses with positive user reviews. A video of the iPhone Yelp app shows how.

Have you checked out Google Maps? It is a very convenient service to help you find directions to where ever you are going, including in many locations, a street view of the place you are planning to visit. But there are more features on Google Maps than just finding your way. Did you know customers can leave reviews of sites they visit on Google Maps?

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