There are hundreds of studies that proclaim the value of star ratings and online product reviews — it’s a primary e-commerce best practice for obvious, and perhaps not so obvious, reasons. We’ll get to that in a minute. First, a slice of e-commerce life to illustrate…
My company, a start-up brand in the consumer electronics lifestyle space, recently deployed product reviews across its web shop. To kick-start the initiative, we asked some of our most engaged customers to honestly assess products that they’d recently purchased. The goal was to get a total of 100 reviews within the first 30 days.
600 reviews were posted in the first week alone.
True, this is a company stoking passionate loyalty from a digital savvy and vocal customer base that demands authenticity. Even so, we were floored by the overwhelming response. Unleashing our customers’ pent-up urge to be heard, to participate in the process, had an immediate and measureable effect on the business. The success of product reviews (in both increased engagement and sales) validated the strategic investment in no time at all.
Here are five ways online reviews can immediately add value to your brand and its bottom line:
1. Help Customers Get What They Want
Polls show that “product reviews” are the #1 driver of online purchase decisions (beating out “recommendations from friends and family”). They help customers weed through the avalanche of competing choices and hone in on what product or solution will provide the most value for them. PLUS, average order values tend to increase when customers evangelize the benefits of additional or higher-tier offerings.
2. Research Online/Buy Offline
We’ve all done it – Googled a product online then made the purchase at a brick-and-mortar location. Smartphone customers in particular benefit from ratings and reviews, especially when they are standing in a store and looking for a reason to purchase your product. Services like Bazaarvoice can even syndicate your reviews to the sites of top retailers. Your biggest channel partners will be ecstatic to learn that you are actively supporting their sales efforts.
3. Give Your Customers a Voice
It’s a participation economy, and everyone has something to say. A Reviews program makes it easy for customers to evangelize your brand. Be sure to remind new customers to post a review, and actively respond when necessary – they will appreciate that you are listening.
4. Monitor Customer Service Issues
Customers who don’t get satisfaction from your support team will often take to the Internet bullhorn in protest. Use it as an opportunity to provide a personal “fix” for what’s ailing the customer, and to reveal what additional training or information your support team may require.
5. Celebrate Success/Pivot Failures
Unlike customer service, which deals almost exclusively with negative experiences, customer reviews on brand sites tend towards the positive. This helps your product team validate their hard work, and generates good feelings among new visitors. Alternatively, if a product receives consistently lukewarm or negative feedback, it can be an opportunity to adjust the offering. In either case, share the results with your executive leadership and reap the rewards.
Recent studies suggest that one customer influences an average of four others. Think of reviews as an efficient means for enabling them to talk to (and influence) each other, and make it an essential part of your brand’s e-commerce strategy.
How are you tapping into the power of your customers?