Why online reviews have shifted the balance of consumer power
Everybody knows this well worn rule:
- The Customer is always right;
- If the Customer is wrong, please refer to Rule 1.
Whether in the queue at your favourite sandwich shop or on a certain multinational online bookshop, the maxim rings true to this day. The most tacit form can be seen in online reviews. Some of which may be truthful; others could be spiteful critique, designed to belittle rival businesses. Truthful or otherwise, the purchaser is swayed by the reviews; especially if the reviewer gives a star rating for their product or service.
The most common example of this can be seen on sites like TripAdvisor. A five star review or a two star review has an impact on the hotelier’s room rates. In one source, the difference between having four stars and five stars in your customer reviews is 11.2% more guests.
If you are looking for work, some employment sites enable you to rate your previous employers. You can also look at potential employers if you wish to make a speculative approach. This isn’t only useful for on spec applications. It is useful if your company merges with another one, or chooses to outsource part of its workforce to another concern (for example with cleaning contracts).
Sometimes the mud sticks
Unlike newspapers, what may have been said on the internet ten years ago could still be seen today. An embarrassing Facebook status or a bad review you may have posted could return to haunt us. At best it could make us the subject of ridicule. At worst, bad reviews could be detrimental to your business. On the other hand, they could be a catalyst for improvements.
Sometimes, the bad reputation could stick, unless the business hires a third party to manage their reputation. This is why reputation management companies are big business. Then there’s also corporate social responsibility which is about being a good business neighbour.
Online reviews give the customer power. Our purchasing decisions are swayed towards the specification when benchmarked against similar products. They can recall their experiences and take photographs of their hotel room – whether good or bad. Their choice of car showroom could go beyond word of mouth, previous experience, and the snazziness of its fascia.
As well as word of mouth, customers’ decisions are also influenced by social media postings. For example: the Twitter and Facebook feeds of any given business they choose to follow. As well as dedicated review sites, Facebook is also another source.
All of the above is described in WebsiteBuilder.org’s infographic. If you wish to share it, just copy the code seen below the infographic itself.
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Net Sixty Six SEO, 15 May 2017.