Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Online Customer Reviews: Sitting on a Goldmine

Online Customer Reviews

Prior to 1995, you would have been hard pressed to find any customer reviews online.  Companies considered this a disaster waiting to happen; how could you seriously allow customers a public forum when they could complain about the product or service you provide?  In 1995, Amazon became the first company to try this.  In 2009, more than 5 million of Amazons customers had posted tens of millions of review online. [1]  This is now a competitive advantage.


"By amassing one of the world's largest collections of consumer opinions, the site has become a leading source of product reviews.  And those reviews are a valuable magnet that lures more consumers to its Web site." [2]

Today the customer reviews are so common that a "...website that does not have feedback loops is considered passé or irrelevant." [3]  And yet there are still a lot of companies, (especially the health care community) that are afraid or unwilling to give consumers an online voice.  These same companies openly talk about ways to encourage and promote their product or service via word-of-mouth.  They want their customers to share their experience with friend and neighbors.  Why not provide an outlet for this?  Consumers will share their opinion; if you provide the avenue you can gain an advantage.


Why Use Online Reviews?

 1.  Real Time Feedback Can Help Your Business Improve Faster


Here is how online review helped L.L. Bean in 2012:

L.L Bean Inc. noticed earlier this year [2012] that one of its top-selling products Supima Cotton Fitted Sheets, was being slammed on online customer reviews.

The company, which pulled the sheets from its website, found that a wrinkle-resistance treatment mistakenly added by a contractor was causing the cotton fabric to unravel.  It offered new sheets to the 6,300 customers who had purchased the set and destroyed the rest of the faulty batch.

"Before, it would have taken us months and months to figure out if something was wrong with a product through returns, if we ever would have know at all," said Steve Fuller, L.L Bean's chief marketing office. [4]

 
courtesy of www.dilbert.com


 2.  Improve Your SEO

There are several online review products, like PowerReviews that have the ability to put new information from a customer's review directly on your products pages.  The allow search engines to see your products and helps customer find your product. [5]


To say PowerReviews is a game-changer is an understatement.  Within a month of launching PowerReviews, Diapers.co, raised its conversion rate by 14%, and I    attribute that entire increase to the integration of PowerReviews."
                                                                                    -Josh Himwich
                                                                                  VP, eCommerce Solutions

3.  Additional Analytic's to Push the Business Strategy

Consumers, sometimes with a little encouragement are willing to share their opinion about a product.  In the past, the only way to obtain this information was through a survey or focus group.  Both methods can be expensive and time consuming.  Online reviews can be built to gather data a company wants to see.  This data can be used to improve your marketing strategy, product segmentation, and process improvement, etc.


I was not able to find any academic research to support or not support customers online reviews.  I am sure you have either tried to use a review to assist your purchase or wrote your own review on a product.  Could the process not be better?

Companies need not wait for the academic research.  They would be wise to test customer reviews and see if these can help their bottom line.  Consumers will give their review on a product or service whether or not the company listens.  Can your business hear the consumer?









[1]  Ante, Spencer E.  "Amazon: Turning Consumer Opinions into gold."  www.businessweek.com.  October 15, 2009

[2]  Ante, Spencer E.  "Amazon: Turning Consumer Opinions into gold."  www.businessweek.com.  October 15, 2009

[3]  Ante, Spencer E.  "Amazon: Turning Consumer Opinions into gold."  www.businessweek.com.  October 15, 2009

[4] Banjo, Shelly.  "Firms Take Online Reviews to Heart."  The Wall Street Journal. July 29, 2012

[5] www.PowerReviews.com