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Can you recommend a good restaurant in Barcelona?

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Written by Morten Suhr Hansen

I have recently added yet another subscription to the collection: A new, smart digital service that gives me new meal plans and grocery lists every week by using information about my family’s size and preferences. Then we don’t have to invent the wheel when planning supper, which is ideal for a busy family with children like ours.

I had never heard about this subscription service before, so how did I end up buying it? Actually, it was a colleague, who recommended it so strongly that I immediately found it on my phone and clicked ”purchase”.

In just a five minutes I went from being totally unaware of the product to a paying subscriber – solely based on one good recommendation from a person I trust. The famous tale of companies that have to create knowledge and demand before delivering a sales message is collecting dust in 2016.

And I am not the only one, who consults friends and colleagues about everything from competent dentists to hard-wearing rubber boots for the kids. The ground-breaking research, which the American analytic institute, Nielsen, conducted a couple of years ago, showed that 92 per cent of us rely on personal recommendations. We are, on the other hand, sceptical when it comes to traditional campaigns and marketing messages.

Why do we suddenly see this development? In reality, I think it has always been like this. It is in our human nature to search for recommendations within our close network. But a couple of factors are contributing to reinforce this tendency. First of all, we are bombarded with thousands of commercial messages 24/7/365. It makes us sceptical and critical, and the result is that we often take ”shelter” with people, whom we have confidence in. Secondly, the digital and especially social media makes it easy for us to share good experiences with a large network – just with a simple click.

This tendency has resulted in the success of many companies by offering customers the possibility to rate different companies and write recommendations (or the opposite). TrustPilot and Tripadvisor are among the most famous players in this field. The challenge is just that the recommendations on these services can be difficult to comprehend, when you do not know the people, who write them. I’m probably not the only one, who have left a restaurant disappointed, which otherwise had received top ratings on various recommendation services. It is even worse that a company can work targeted to get good ratings and recommendations on these services– usually with good results. It weakens the trust to the many and more or less anonymous recommendations, which is circling web.

There is no doubt that personal recommendations are the most effective ones, when it comes to transferring products. But how is the company supposed to address that challenge? First, step is to recognise that a large part of the marketing of a product is something you cannot control. The customers talk about your product behind your bag, whether you like it or not.

I would like to recommend you to stimulate and encourage your customers to talk about your product in a positive way and get them to share their good experiences with other people. A strong service design around the product itself is a good place to start. It is just as easy as it is hard: Surprise your customers and give them more than they expect. These are the kind of good stories we love to share with each other. For example, a picture of a dinner that was taken with the newest app in the collection.

This comment was originally brought in Berlingske Business 13th of September 2016.