Importance of Customer Product Reviews

“79% of customers trust a customer review, as much as a personal referral.” – BrightLocal

We discussed earlier about the importance of customer testimonials for business success. In this exposition, we will speak pertinently about the significance and importance of customer product reviews. These reviews are quintessential to a company’s branding, marketing, and promotional campaigns. They help a company build trust, appreciation, and over time, loyalty with customers, and ensure that a company products stand out from the crowded market and melee. Displaying customer product reviews on the company website is one of the most important and prudent methods for a company to establish its credibility – since positive reviews from customers demonstrate their trust in a company. Despite this huge benefit, several companies still fail on this count, but the trend is changing – companies are realizing the benefits of visibly displaying customer product reviews on their online sites, as a means to benefit other existing and prospective customers. Ideally, this exercise should be part of the company’s image and brand building activity.

As mentioned previously, in order for customer product reviews and testimonials to be ‘useful’ to a company, firstly the company must facilitate easy sharing. Secondly, companies must encourage customers to provide reviews that specifically describe how the products solved their needs, alleviated their problems, and the role the company played in helping the customer enhance business. Such ‘descriptive’ reviews would serve their true purpose – to gain credibility, more business, and higher levels of trust for the company. Before the rise of the internet, customers had no way of ‘speaking back’ to companies or sharing their views with other customers. They had no way of letting others know of their experiences with a company – good or bad. As a result, customers were not able to highlight a company’s trustworthiness or penalize them for being dishonest in any respect, this in turn would make companies bolder, and more brazen with poor conduct since they had no fear of retribution or punishment. However, that has all changed today – the balance of power has shifted in favour of customers, and they are more than happy to leverage it.

Today, with so many online channels, such as the highly visible social media platforms, customers control brand images, and customer product reviews today can either help a company sell more or completely wipe out a range of products. With so much visibility and company image depending on what existing customers say, companies can no longer feign sincerity or trustworthiness. A single instance of impropriety on the part of a company could lead to a tidal wave of negativity unleashed by the ‘wronged’ customer, which would for sure, be taken advantage of by the competitors. It makes sense therefore, for companies to not only treat their customers well, but also ensure that happy customers are able to express their happiness through digital means. Customer product reviews, are a big part of such sharing. With the rise in technology, it is not tough for a company to design the website’s review page in a manner that would filter out competing companies – in any case, competitors would not risk being and affect their own reputation, since the comments would be visible to all.

Companies may argue that not all customer product reviews would be positive, and displaying negative reviews could affect their popularity and market standing. However, market experts believe that by allowing negative reviews too, a company would be seen as trustworthy, albeit the company takes swift and efficient action to remedy the problem. Therefore, a company can use the transparency and visibility even of negative customer product reviews for its benefit – quick resolutions would not only please the complaining customer, but would also impress others in the market, as also prospective customers. Honesty and speediness in resolving a customer’s problem speaks volumes of a company’s dedication and passion to serve its customers well. The fact is, even customers understand that no company would be perfect and there would be errors and lapses, and are more accepting of companies that understand their faults and do whatever it takes to make them right for the customers. As customers, we would be less likely to trust a company that portrayed itself as perfect. In any case, research shows that a company with only good comments would seem ‘shady’ and the trust level for those comments would be low. However, if there are mixed reviews, the probability of people believing, the customer product reviews and the company, would be higher. Research shows that glowing reviews alone do not sell as much – a negative customer product review on the website actually enhances the chances of a company selling more.

The immediate and instant benefit of customer product reviews is that they instil feelings of trust and confidence in people, who could be future customers. The more reviews a company gains and publishes, the easier it would be for existing and future shoppers to make an informed decision – and companies that appear transparent have a higher chance of attracting and retaining the attention of their target audience. Not only do brick and mortar stores benefit from customer product reviews, the company’s online store does too. The fact is that before visiting a physical store, customers now search the company’s online presence, compare it with others in the market and read customer product reviews. Based on how a company ‘appears’ on all the counts of comparison, prospects would decide against or in favour of a company.

From a company’s perspective, customer product reviews help it understand its strengths, its products, and customer expectations. Customer reviews provide feedback and ideas for improvements and enhancements, and sometimes even some top class marketing and promotional idea. We know that customer product reviews carry a load of benefits for companies, but they are not easy to gain. Encouraging customers to provide reviews is a tough challenge, and one that requires relentless effort, and only companies willing to make a sustained effort would succeed in gaining the ‘elusive customer reviews’.

The most straightforward and we think, obvious way would be to directly ask customers for their reviews. Customers may want to leave reviews, but may not know how or where, or at times, this activity could completely skip their attention. When a company asks for customer product reviews, it shows customers that the company cares about what they think and that the company values their opinion. Asking customers to share their insights makes them feel valuable and important, and they would be more likely to remember in the future too. Companies use on-site request forms, follow up emails, and other methods to gain customer product reviews, and these seem to work effectively. In addition, the automated process of requesting for their reviews saves time and effort on the part of a company too.

While requesting or expecting customer product reviews, as mentioned, ensure that it is easy for customers to do so – complicated questionnaires, too many questions, and difficulty in accessing the feedback forms can put customers off providing reviews, for good. It is a good idea to offer an incentive to encourage customers to share their views. People love ‘free’ stuff and would be more likely to comply when offered these. Through incentives, a company could even get customers to share photos and or videos of the products they used, and elaborate on how the products helped make their lives simpler.

When asking for customer product reviews, a company must remember to view the ‘exercise’ from a customer’s point of view. By doing so, a company would understand what would encourage customers to provide honest and yet balanced feedback, which could prove extremely beneficial to the company’s attempts for improvement and enhancement. Does your company succeed at gaining effective customer product reviews?

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