Across the web
Reviews have continued to grow in importance, for businesses and consumers. All research points to the fact that consumers are becoming more and more conditioned to looking for reviews before they choose which business to patronise, and leading businesses are embracing the concept of serving reviews on their own websites so consumers aren't driven off to comparison sites where they may be poached away by their competitors.
Retailers are at the forefront. This is not surprising as they have the evidence to support the effect: the sheer volume of business the big online retailers do every day of the week makes it very easy for them to measure the effect of consumer reviews. John Lewis didn't introduce reviews by accident...
Amazon don't do it for fun...
Nor have Hyundai based their entire 2013 marketing campaign on reviews by chance...
All these (highly successful) companies introduced consumer reviews for one simple reason: reviews are now recognised as one of the primary new business drivers. Consumers want them, so these companies give their consumers what they want.
So the question every business should be asking itself is: how can we imitate them?
But why have some businesses hesitated?
Here are the main reasons:
- No business wants to read negative comments about itself on its own website
- There are a plethora of websites dedicated to consumer reviews, so why not leave it to them?
- The administrative burden - managing (responding to) the reviews
- Negative comments: Resolution - the system where we feed negative reviews straight to the business for response has been around for longer, but it really proved itself in 2013. Less than one in one hundred negative reviews makes it as far as our clients' Dialogue modules - issue number one sorted!
- External review sites: Ask any hotel! Seriously, those websites are run for their own benefit. They don't care which business the consumer chooses through them (be it a hotel or a lawyer), just as long as they choose one. Businesses must invite and show reviews on their own websites. You wouldn't think of not showing images or descriptions of your product or service on your website; no more should you hesitate to show your customers' opinions.
- Administration: in 2011 we became aware that some clients would value a service that managed the 'back-end' of the reviews process for them. So in 2012 we introduced Feedback Manager™ and Feedback Manager Plus™ to do just that. They've been a huge success and are now handling the whole interaction, from initial review to response and any communication in between, with Feedback Manager Plus responding to reviews on public sites.
Other changes in 2013 that will impact on businesses in 2014 (and beyond)...
- Google has finally got its review act together and has introduced Google Places for Business
- Yelp is coming - the world's largest review community is investing heavily in the UK
- Facebook is now dedicating massive resources to drive its own review function