Customer reviews have always been one of the most important factors in influencing buying decisions, because we trust in someone elses buying experience more than we trust what the seller says about themselves. Whether you sell via traditional retail, via a website or through a 3rd party portal like eBay, your customers experience will often be a massive influence on other potential customers.
Why Reviews are so Important
Customer reviews, however they are made (either online, word of mouth or via social media) are deemed to be the most natural form of marketing, known as referral marketing. By doing a good job you will be recommended, by doing a bad job you will not. This is the case whether or not that your business operates at a local level or globally. So much so that up to 31% of people are much more likely to spend more on a business that has positive reviews.
Customer reviews have always been present but with it now being even easier to publicise views, customers are more empowered and if they don’t get the service they expect then they are far more likely to tell the world online. A 2014 study carried out by BrightLocal found that around 88% of people trust online reviews just as much as they trust personal recommendations.
Standing Out from the Crowd
For the business owner the only thing that has really changed is that the internet provides a forum for customers to comment. It is often said that it’s not about the problem, it’s about how you deal with the problem that counts and online customer reviews give the business owner the opportunity to generate feedback, to deal with problems and to improve their customer service. People have always talked, before the internet it was harder for businesses to generate feedback, this didn’t mean that people weren’t talking; it just meant that they didn’t know what they were saying.
Customer feedback has been criticised extensively online by business owners, complaining that negative feedback has damaged their business. Though you will always get some anti-competitive behaviour, where customer comments are displayed in volume, if the service is good, then overall comments will be good. If the service is not good then this will be reflected in the comments and may put future customers off. This is why customer feedback leads to better customer service, and the better businesses will shine.
Reviews are becoming even more important online. As well as reviewing a product or a store, now businesses can be reviewed where customers rate the service, the website and the product. The search engines now display a websites star rating next to the result in search and rating companies now provide a third party that offers an un-biased reflection of customers’ experience. Studies show that customers are more likely to visit a website with more reviews than another, demonstrating the importance that star ratings now have to website owners.
Customer rating solutions can be used in retrospect with many offering the service of contacting several thousand previous customers to generate their feedback. Social Media now makes reviewing websites and products even easier.
Customers will have an opinion on a websites service regardless. Customer reviews make it easier for a business to respond to unhappy customers and also improve their service for future customers. People talk, customer reviews are an important part of digital marketing and customer service and are here to stay.