March 9th, 2011

The Importance of a Good Review

Reviewing your experiences when buying online is becoming more and more popular, with customers able to discuss their experiences on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, as well as many sites popping up which are solely dedicated to providing a forum space to share product and service experiences. Many larger retailers are also providing a space for their customers to post reviews. But what does this mean for businesses?

Online reviews are valuable because they can help a business discover what it is doing well, and highlight areas where it may need to improve. Great reviews will also drive sales, and the reassurance of their peers is particularly valuable to a younger demographic – reports of personal experience speak to people much more than biased adverts.

Recent research shows that 53 % of shoppers have decided against making a purchase based on a negative online review – that shows the potential that reviews have to lose retailers half of their potential business! Half of those asked also indicated that online recommendations are the most influential factor in their buying decisions, more so than any advertising campaign or promotion *. Elsewhere, further research has showed that retailers that embrace reviews and recommendations into their online strategy can show expect an uplift of up to 18%, which is an unprecedented potential in the current climate **. I think this illustrates the true potential of how managing reviews effectively can establish increased customer confidence, increase traffic and improve return customer figures.

Meanwhile whilst negative reviews are unfortunate, but the way in which it is dealt is key. The catch with social media means that brands need to be transparent, as on sites like Twitter, all users can see your responses. A good reply is invaluable to send the message to customers that your brand cares, but each answer must be considered to help to reinstate your brand’s message.

There have been examples in the past of brands who have responded to customer criticism inappropriately, and the result has been a public relations disaster. It is without doubt that the Internet is a powerful tool, and has given everyone a voice, and many resources with which customers can communicate directly with companies and brands. The democratic nature of reviews may scare many retailers, but handled correctly, it can be invaluable to drive sales and really project the right image and give a voice to your brand.