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Online Reviews: 4 Tips for Building Customer Trust

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The Challenge: Do you have a strategy for encouraging reviews? Do you monitor reviews? Are you responding to reviews and taking action based on this powerful voice of customer guidance?

Today's educated and digitally savvy consumers search out online reviews, even from people they do not know; 69 percent of local consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. Less than 10 percent trust what companies say about themselves, according to an Econsultancy report. Studies by Saurage Research show that 84 percent of US shoppers rely on reviews before making purchase decisions.

The findings below are based on extensive Voice of Customer (VoC) research conducted by our firm, ERDM regarding the rapidly evolving role of reviews in consumer's decision making process:

  • A large number of reviews with both positive and negative sentiments are an advantage and create trust.
  • Apparel and cosmetics customers want to be able to sort reviews by multiple criteria to evaluate the relevance of the reviewer's comments to their personal situation. Criteria include; part of the country, (some feel that people from other parts of the country don't share their fashion preferences), age, skin type, and clothing size.
  • Pictures and profiles of the reviewers are also important. Per this quote from a recent VoC research effort, "I like to see who is writing the review. It makes a difference as to how much weight I assign it."
Case Study Intuit Quickbooks:

Adding ratings and reviews greatly increased sales for Intuit Quickbooks ProAdvisors. They are accounting service providers who have completed a comprehensive QuickBooks curriculum and are listed on Intuit's website, which is searchable by businesses looking for accounting services.

  • QuickBooks ProAdvisors with reviews get 5X more referrals than those with few or none.
  • ProAdvisors with reviews get more clicks than higher-ranked ProAdvisors.
  • The number of reviews can be more important than the rating.

4 Takeaways to Help You Leverage the Power of Online Reviews:

  1. Ask your customers for reviews and do not fear negative reviews: The Quickbooks case study uncovered that for U.S. clients, 80 percent of reviewers give a 4 or 5 (out of 5) star rating. UK clients' reviews are 88 percent positive. A few negative reviews lend credibility to the positive ones.
  2. Quantity of the online reviews can outweigh the quality. In the Quickbooks example, ProAdvisors with ten reviews averaging four stars receive more clicks than those who have a five star average, but only two reviews. Therefore encouraging customers to share information with you is imperative.
  3. Online reviews are also important for offline businesses, "Nearly 70 percent of US internet users sometimes compared prices or read reviews before visiting a store." - eMarketer
  4. The more detailed and personalized the reviewers are, the more successful the review will be in converting potential customers. Offer incentives for completely filling out profile details, preferences, and including a photo.