Love them or hate them, customer reviews are here to stay. They’ve been around since man learned to communicate, but before the internet news travelled very slowly so businesses could get away with selling bad products as no-one knew any better until it was too late and they had bought it. These days if you want to find out about a product then a quick search online will give you more information and reviews than you could ever need, from complete strangers. Most smart businesses are fully aware of this and have evolved with the times too, implementing procedures and practises to combat any negative publicity.
In this modern era it looks like every man and his dog can have a say about virtually anything that’s online – from iPhone apps to baked beans to holiday destinations, if you haven’t got a customer review section on your site then you could be missing out on important sales, not to mention positive brand building. But, and this is a big BUT, having these reviews can be a double-edged sword.
There is a very good argument for having (supposedly) unbiased customer reviews. This being that if someone goes on a site to buy, say, a fridge, then who are they going to believe more when they’re browsing the range of fridges – the company that’s selling the fridge, or the other customers who have already bought one? Most people will opt for the latter, which is why reviews are so popular. You have good customer reviews for your fridge, people see these positive reviews, so they will be more inclined to buy that fridge. If a company tells you their fridge is good, you take it with a pinch of salt because you know that all the company wants is your money, right?
If customer reviews are on the site that’s selling the product then they will have full control over what’s published online. A good company will show all reviews of their products. Amazon, for example, show all the book reviews even if they are bad. By doing this, businesses are hoping that the positive comments will outweigh the negative, and by showing a few negative comments they hope to come across as trustworthy.
People power is becoming an all-powerful tool on the web, and reviews are being monitored and taken very seriously by businesses. One negative comment, by one individual, is enough these days to snowball and create chaos for a businesses who should have dealt with the problem as soon as it arose.
So to put everything in context, if you’re the customer then read reviews with an open mind. Who reviewed the product? Do they deserve your trust? Why should you believe them? The simple answer is to do your research and make up your own mind. If you’re the business, then be honest about customer reviews. If your product is bad, don’t put it online and definitely don’t let anyone review it. Go back to your R&D department and fix the underlying problems. The golden rule is to make sure your customer service team responds and resolves complaints immediately, or the company could see the situation spiralling out of control fast. If a bad review has been put online, respond to it, fix the problem immediately and make an unhappy customer happy. This not only protects your bottom line but also reinforces your honesty and brand integrity.