People buy from people – can you really trust what a retailer is telling you? Or would you rather place trust in a customer who has already bought? I know what I prefer. Even when making a low value purchase like a CD or a book, I always look for the opinions of others before putting my hand in my wallet and shelling out. It sets my expectation about what I am buying and reassures me about my decision. Others have bought it, most have enjoyed it, some not so much… I know what I’m getting.
Amazon obviously were the first to really jump at the idea of allowing their customers to connect with each other. Sharing their experience, not just at a product level but also service, value for money and brand perception. However, not every retailer has the luxury of a development team the size of a small army to implement the tools needed to facilitate this customer interaction, as Amazon do. However there is a plethora of social commerce providers out there such as Bazaarvoice and Reevoo, which means that the implementation of product reviews, recommendations and question and answer programmes can be achieved by pretty much all online retailers.
Having worked with many clients to implement such programmes eCircle has seen first-hand the impact that user generated content can have on sales, engagement and customer loyalty. There are some key factors to take into consideration though:
Impartiality: Reviews must be impartial. If potential customers get even a whiff of foul play, it will put them off for life. Reevoo have gone the extra mile whereby reviews can ONLY be left by people who have actually purchased the product. You are genuinely reading a review or recommendation from a buyer/owner whose experience is genuine.
Volume: It is fundamentally important to drive the sheer volume of review content across product categories. Would you favour a product that has received a 5 star review from a single customer over a product with a 4 star average from 500? Promoting the opportunity to leave reviews is key. An invitation by email to customers 2 weeks after purchase (give them time to form an opinion) has been seen to be the biggest driver of user generated content across a number of clients. If you provide the service – let people know. We are all a little vain, who doesn’t like to see their opinion published online for all to see?
Credibility: Is it really a 5 star product? This point is crucial. Setting expectation is an absolute must or you will only set customers up for disappointment. There is clearly an opportunity (and temptation) to filter out all the average to low reviews in favour for 5 star glory, but this is a very short sighted view which undermines the intelligence of the potential buyer. We are a savvy bunch in the online world and can see right through the rigged content. Poor reviews can actually add credibility to an overall perception of a product – mix in a few 2s and 3s with the 4s and 5s and it will add weight to the 4.5 average. After all we don’t expect everyone to like everything they buy.
As an integrated partner with industry leading technology providers such as Reevoo, Bazaarvoice and Rich Relevance, eCircle has a wealth of experience in helping our customers get the most out of their customers, who are – after all – their best salespeople.