How Effective Are Online Customer Reviews?
In case you haven’t heard, it is the age of customer service. The customer does not have to be right but the customer is king in our new online economy. From the business perspective, customer service can be even more difficult because customers do not see the employees they are speaking to. Digital customer service has many challenges too because the tone is sometimes not conveyed through computers, emails, and faxes.
However, customer service is becoming more important than ever because of the internet and word of mouth marketing, social media connections, and online customer reviews. Consumers are much more likely to share the experiences they have with companies with their friends via their social networks. Their social networks allow them to easily and quickly tell many people, so that puts more pressure on companies to deliver an excellent customer experience. In addition, potential customers believe online reviews from people they do or do not know; therefore, impressing your customers and getting them to share their positive experiences should be your goal with each and every customer.
Why Online Reviews are Good for Your Business
Studies have proven that customer reviews increase sales because shoppers seek out the reviews before they are willing to make a purchase with a company. This goes for companies that they have not or even have done business with before. Everyone likes to see some reassurance that what they are purchasing is going to be what they expect and that it will do what they want. Seeing what other customers say about something helps confirm their purchasing decision. Some important statistics about online reviews:
Saurage Research showed that 84% of Americans rely on online customer reviews.
MyCommerce.com research reported that 63% of shoppers are more likely to purchase when a website has online reviews in place.
The MyCommerce.com research also showed that consumers trust reviews from other customers 12 times more than the product descriptions.
In addition to an increase in sales, a company can experience when they encourage, showcase, and highlight their online reviews in quite a few different ways. The company can experience an increase in search engine rankings because of the added, renewable, and fresh content about your products or services. The benefit can be seen in both cases, whether the reviews are on your own website or on another website that links to your website. Online stores will often see an increase in overall customer satisfaction and reduction in returns because customers will be more educated about a purchase before they make it. Online reviews might increase the average order total because customers will upsell related products when they review those along with the product that is being looked at. The reviews build trust among your customers.
Online reviews actually end up being a great form of advertising that is very inexpensive or does not cost anything extra at all.
Even negative reviews can still help your company. How can a negative review help you? There are quite a few ways. For example, you can be alerted to a potential problem before it gets worse. Online reviews can give upper management and the buyers’ feedback and alert them to any problems with particular products, services, or employees. At the very least, it helps the company better define products and describe services better. Some negative reviews mixed in with the positive ones lend credibility to the reviews since all positive reviews are unlikely and, therefore, not really believable. When your company takes the time to respond to a negative review you have the opportunity to turn it around and fix a problem or at least demonstrate that you care about your customers. In addition, research shows that all reviews in general, even bad reviews, can increase sales. Reviews help to build trust, credibility, and respect.
Reviews Really Cost You if They Are Fake
All of this research and the facts point to how important online reviews are; however, posting fake reviews about your own company is never worth it. There is a lot of new technology coming out that can actually detect fake reviews, so chances are you might get caught. If you get caught, the penalty is steep, both for your pocket and your company’s reputation. Recently, 19 companies were caught posting fake positive reviews about their own companies and were fined $350,000 each. In addition, fake reviews are considered illegal by the FTC. Overall, it is bad news and you should concentrate on focusing on more positive things for your business and doing right by and for your customers.
How Can Your Business Benefit From Online Reviews?
Setting up reviews on your own website puts you in control of the process and you are able to respond appropriately. In addition, reviews on your own website help your search engine rankings because of the additional user-generated content that is rich in keywords about your company.
If you do not have reviews on your own website, carefully monitor outside review sites so that you can keep up with responses.
Regularly ask customers to review their products and their experience. Including a quick link in your confirmation emails will go a long way toward increasing reviews.
When you respond to negative reviews, make sure not to get emotional, state the facts, and take the conversation offline.
Make sure that your responses show that you care about your customers and respond quickly to issues or problems. In most cases, other consumers reading negative reviews can feel even better about doing business with your company if they see that you respond to, care about, and fix any problems that may arise.
Use positive reviews in your marketing efforts as testimonials. Since consumers tend to believe reviews over advertising, use your online customer reviews as part of your advertising message.
Never start a trend of fake reviews. The technology is getting smarter and it is not worth the risk.
Online customer reviews are extremely important for the success of your business. Because you are the only person who is not allowed to supply testimonials for your business, you have no choice but to rely on other people to supply them. The reason that you are not allowed to review your business is because you will not be perceived as being credible. However, it is not entirely out of your hands. For your part, you can offer the best-quality product and/or services possible so that other people will have no choice but to come up with glowing testimonials on behalf of you and your business. It is also important to remember that all natural reviews will help your business and fake reviews may harm your business.
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