Greg Stielstra over at Pyromarketing noted in this article that an eMarketer study on the greatest influence on buyer decisions, and word of mouth, that is, the recommendation of others, came through as far and away the greatest influencer on buyer decisions. Word of Mouth is cited as being nearly twice as effective as the next closest influencer. According to the Church of the Customer blog article here- Word of Mouth is by far number one.
So why does this matter to you? “I’m not in sales and marketing,” you say. It matters to you if you have a job anywhere, doing anything- or even if you don’t.
Word of Mouth spreads people’s opinion of you. It spreads their opinion of the work you do, of your team, of your project, of your department, your company… it goes on and on. Looking for a job? If your friends and past coworkers do not respect you and your work, you won’t be getting help from them- even if they say that they are helping. Networking has been shown to be one of the #1 ways of landing a new job, and if you haven’t painted a picture of yourself positively with those who know you, you’ve cut yourself off from that market- or worse, turned it against you.
How about your next review? Expecting a raise? Do you think that if you have a poor image with your coworkers or customers that’s going to help you?
Funding for your project? If the buzz around the company water cooler is that project X is hot, but no one’s heard much about yours, you might be in trouble. Funding for more staff for your department? Not if word of mouth says your department isn’t contributing value.
You should care about your reputation no matter what you do for a living. Even garbage collectors have bosses who have to listen to complaints- and who hear praise. What they say about reputations is true, too- they take years to build sometimes, but they come apart in seconds. People are more likely to talk about negative things because they like to complain. If you are consistently bad, everyone will know. People talk about inconsistencies because they notice them. If you do a good job normally, but make a screwup, they’ll notice that (of course, if you handle your error well, they’ll talk about that- which can do you good). Most of all, people love to talk about their problems- so if you cause people problems, expect the word to spread.
On the contrary, integrity is admired. Help is appreciated. Value your working relationships with others and try to bring value. Act with integrity and be fair. Strive to be not just ‘a good employee’, but the kind of person people want to work with. You can’t afford not to.