Online Reviews: Best Friend or Foe?

You have decided to jump on board with the rest of the industry by going online to sell your products and services. Unlike in-person feedback that you can get in your current stores, online shopping and reviews open up your product and services to reviews like no other way before. Besides your promotional advertising, there is one other aspect that will arguably matter more to your customers, peer review. On average, a millennial online shopper is more likely to be swayed to purchase your product based on authentic peer to peer review. This may sound great, your product being reviewed and upping your potential customer list. In today’s world where products can be reviewed instantly across multiple platforms means that you and your company need to stay vigilant about customer feedback and address concerns as they come to you. This article will cover the importance of online reviews, how an online review can go wrong for your company, and how to utilize reviews in a way to promote growth for your business.

Before you spend only a moment glancing at reviews, Forbes magazine quoted that over 88% of consumers trust an online review as much as they would a person to person recommendation. This is a highly significant number, your business, and your product can be successful by properly managing the reviews that come on to your website. Now there are a few types of reviews we would like to discuss before moving forward, there are reviews that are unprompted from customers, there are reviews that you have purchased in exchange for goods, and then there are of course reviews that are negative. Reviews that are unprompted are clients who are so satisfied with their purchases that they go on to, Amazon or Yelp or even on their own social media pages and write a glowing recommendation for your product. This is a fantastic way of advertising for you, and as a good customer service based company, it is highly encouraged that you personally thank these reviewers and encourage their continued business. Then there are customers whom you seek out, either freelancers or reviewers with an online company, who will write reviews in exchange for your product. These reviews have to be 100% authentic in order to gain trust from clients, meaning it can’t just be about the positives of your product. They must also write disclaimers on their reviews so that your potential clients know they received the product for a service. This is a good way to draw attention to your product or service if you notice that you are not getting any reviews or traction on a product. However, if you have a very popularly reviewed item, stray away from prompted reviews as they are not viewed as trustworthy.

Remember when we said that positive reviews are pivotal in drawing in online customers to shop? By that logic, you may think that negative reviews mean that your product will lose customers, which may be true. This does not mean that you delete reviews that are not in favor of your product. When a negative review is left a company has three options that determine its success. It can either leave the negative review unaddressed, the company can choose to respond to the review in a way that provides background to the complaint, or finally they can respond to the product asking the customer to get in contact for a replacement. So which is the most successful? Studies have shown that when you engage directly with a customer, without casting blame on the online review, to address the matter via email is the best choice. It demonstrates that not only do you respect the client’s complaint, you are willing to address it either privately or publicly and will offer a replacement on the product. When reviewers see this it adds the security they may need that the product is replaceable if damaged, and builds on a strong customer service base. This can make or break the deal, as many shoppers, of all ages, get anxious about the quality of the product they will receive. Unlike in-store purchases they can’t feel the quality, and can’t discuss with a sales associate the return options, so you want to make sure that you are known for superior customer service with you online returns and sales. As an online shopper myself, I always am hesitant to buy from a store if they have many unanswered negative reviews, or worse attempt to shame the reviewer. One yoga studio went so far as to try and put down a customer who was complaining about the overall instructor performance. Regardless of who was right in that review, I chose to go elsewhere because of how the company carried itself. Reviews have a huge presence in how consumers make decisions, so you want to carry yourself, in the same manner, as you would if you were in the store, except this time, any online shopper can see.

Being in a fishbowl of reviews can seem nerve-wracking, but it can also help you grow your customer base faster. If you remember, Forbes reported the percentage of how customers are making decisions, then you were probably thinking about how to make the 88% work for you. Online testimonials and reviews from legitimate customers can draw in more customers and boost your online success. Utilizing social media to promote the actual words of prior customers helps increase trust in your company and product, but also promotes you as a company that is authentic in its message. You are the best choice because your real customers believe in your product and customer service. That message has a strong impact on the way that you are viewed both online and in stores. With such an inundation across virtually all industries of clever marketing ploys, the distinguishing factor for most consumers is the simple fact that other people have bought your product and like it so much they go online and talk about it.

It may seem like quite a bit of work to be monitoring reviews, responding to reviews, and potentially even eliciting reviews of one product or service, but it could be the pivotal factor in choosing your product over someone else’s. We highly suggest that if you plan on putting your products online that you align your company to see the importance of feedback and designate a team to address feedback. Excellent customer service is now expected across all platforms in which you sell your products, and it distinguishes you in the industry. Not only will it create trust and garner new clients, it can also be used as free authentic advertising for your company.


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