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The importance of customer reviews

The importance of customer reviews

My daughter loves popcorn. Last Christmas, I bought a hot air popcorn popper as a “family” Christmas gift. I bought an inexpensive one, not realizing how often we’d end up using it. And this year I requested a new one, since the one we bought just isn’t that great – we make popcorn at least twice a week, so we need a good one.

First stop: online reviews

I had mentioned to my mom that we needed a new popcorn popper (hint:hint), so I got a call from her asking me to clarify exactly what kind I wanted (she likes to get the gifts “just right”). And I had no idea…

So where did I turn? Online reviews, of course. I visited several different retail sites that I knew would sell hot air poppers, and I read the reviews for the type of popper I was looking for. Turns out, the really cool 50’s-style one I had my eye on didn’t have great reviews. The popper with some of the best reviews was less expensive than my original “first choice,” and was a reputable brand. I quickly sent the link to mom so she’d know my preference.

Why are customer reviews so important?

Positive customer reviews, testimonials, and referrals are tremendously valuable for any business. While reviews on sites such as Yelp are being seen more and more as unreliable, product reviews on retail sites are taken by many consumers to be almost as reliable as a personal recommendation from someone they know.

It’s well known that people are more likely to tell the world about a bad experience than they are to share a positive encounter. A quick look at a Facebook news feed on Black Friday weekend would give insight into how many people were disgruntled with the service they received, the price they paid, or the overall experience. And while I’m certain that many, many people had positive shopping experiences that weekend, very few likely took the time to share those positive experiences with the world – they probably didn’t even mention them to their close friends. So when you see that someone has actually taken the time to give a business a glowing review, that means something.

Trust is important when it comes to reviews

While sites like Yelp have taken a hit in the “trustworthiness” department, consumers are still more likely to trust a third-party review than a review on your own website: after all, you probably wouldn’t allow a negative review of your product or service to be posted on your site. But a positive review on Google+, Yahoo, Kudzu, etc. may be just the thing to convince a potential customer to take a second look.

One of the best review systems I’ve seen is on Amazon.com. When someone has purchased the product through Amazon and then provided a review, it’s indicated that it was a “verified purchase.” Now you can be certain that person purchased that product on Amazon and took the time to write a review. It’s just another level of “trust” that the review is a truthful one from someone who purchased/used the product and had a positive experience.

You still can’t trust everything you read

There are plenty of companies out there that try to “game” the system by having everyone they’ve ever met write a positive review for them - whether or not they’ve used the product or service the company is selling. Conversely, some companies go to great lengths to find people to post negative reviews of their competitors. Unfortunately, it’s the nature of the beast, and there’s almost nothing you can do about it.

Don’t be afraid to solicit reviews

When you have a positive interaction with a customer, don’t hesitate to politely ask them to “spread the word” by writing a positive review for your site or whatever review site you choose. And be sure to keep your eyes peeled for negative reviews: you may not be able to do anything about the initial review, but following up with the unhappy reviewer can sometimes yield an overall positive outcome. After all, no product or service is perfect – and turning an unhappy customer into a happy (or at least, satisfied) customer will get you more traction than a customer who was satisfied from the get-go.

Dec 01, 2014
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