Online public review platforms are now very common, popular and easily accessible, and subsequently found by customers in practically any market place. The reviews offer a very public place for customers to share their thoughts of a product or service, and add an extra decibel to their voice.
We are now at a place where the frequent use of social media to interact with corporations have only added to the platform and exposure that customers are able to offer; and in a digital age, word travels very fast.
But what are the positives and negatives of companies making themselves readily available on customer review type sites? Is it right option for everyone? So let’s start from the top…
In highly competitive markets; it is becoming more and more difficult to build a credible brand that customers can relate to, connect and trust. Consumers are constantly bombarded by messages and visuals to create a population of smart and savvy consumers who may not be as susceptible to the old marketing tricks. Hosting customer reviews is a great way to bring credibility to your website. If all set up correctly however. The concept could bring to be double edged sword for companies. It certainly needs thoughts and planning behind it.
A reliable percentage seen, shows up to 30% of customers use an online review(s) as their primary source of information and reinforcement, to ultimately make the buying decision. Inviting reviews is great way of leading users away from the competition, and ensuring they visit you instead! Also from the hosting company’s perspective, it’s a great way to initiate conversation.
Interestingly, sources show that 68% of users trust a company’s credentials more if they see both positive and negative reviews shown, and 30% suspect reviews to be fabricated if they see no negative reviews. It goes to show that even with overwhelmingly positive comments, users can still possess a degree of scepticism.
The concept of using and managing a review tool is not necessarily a quick route to success per se, however if the content isn’t accurate, up to date and even relevant to the hosting company or services offered, then there isn’t much value in the function. If so the review function isn’t managed correctly or badly, then it can lead to a PR issue, and the subsequent response can be an unnecessary and avoidable task.
It’s worth being mindful, that a user will often be more receptive and keen to comment on your company, if they aren’t happy with an aspect. This is where you will want to reiterate the ethos of managing expectations.
So what if a customer does experience or have an issue? Then you will need to be ready to respond immediately. This is what the other users will expect a company to do, and of course the specific user will want to hear back so the issue can be resolved.
Ultimately from a company’s point of view; running a review facility provides another tool to personalizing the company, and bringing a more interpersonal approach to the customer. In the long run, online word of mouth and customer reviews can help you gain trust, build the brand equity (see previous blog entry) and add credibility to the proposition that is being sold.
To utilize the tool to ensure its most effective, it’s beneficial to strategize the use of it and ask yourself how can this information and data collected, be used to make a positive difference to the company. Just be sure to listen to what your customers are saying!
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This post was written by Chris Beck