It used to be that simply having a website and making sure you’re properly linked to from the right websites and highly ranking in google is good enough for people to trust you, but now things have changed.
When people visit an online store they don’t want to see only the products, pictures, and prices – they want to find out the best price, the best description, the most accurate pictures, the related items, and also what other people say about that product and about the company selling the product.
The social element plays a big role: just see what’s going on via amazon and eBay, where it doesn’t matter what’s the price for a product but even more what other customers say about the seller of the product and about the product itself.
Listening to a what people says about the product and the company has went so far as to generate business opportunities for “Online Reviews Companies”, who are independent platforms that can help companies get genuine reviews from their customers.
The question is, however,
Are the Reviews a Venting Opportunity or an Appreciation of the Product or Service?
Many times before people buy products they make sure they check out the reviews to be informed of what others say about the seller and about the product. However, there may be some issues regarding the online reviews, and here are our top 8 questions based on our experience:
1. Are the online reviews genuine? Many products have great reviews, maybe even too great, almost as if the company has somehow incentivized the customer to review that product in a positive way. Amazon has already started going after such companies, and there are some reviews on amazon that clearly state that the customer has received the product for free from the seller (which can be an incentive, right?). How genuine are the reviews?
2. Are the reviews merely a venting of unhappy customers? When reading some of the reviews you can clearly see that the customers are just not happy with that product; there are many good reviews, but some customers just want to vent because the item arrived broken, or the seller didn’t reply on time to the complain, or that they didn’t receive the product. The online reviews platforms offer a pulpit to many unhappy customers to vent and just leave a negative review for the company. The situation might have been sorted out in the meantime (and you can clearly see this in the comments under the review), but the customer still wants to vent.
3. Is the product quality really not that good? Genuine customers leave genuine reviews via the online reviews platforms, and in reading these reviews you can clearly see that more than one customer has said that a product has a problem or is not of high quality. It is good to take heed to such opinions, since you may end up leaving a similar review if you ignore them.
4. Is the customer service of a company good, or are they delaying, not sorting out problems, and ignoring customers? The online reviews platforms give you a picture – whether accurate or not, it’s up to you to decide – of what the customer service of a company is like. If a lot of customers complain that the products arrive too late, no one replies to their complaints, and the faulty items are not replaced, you better pay attention.
5. Do people realize what they do and say online? Simply receiving an email to review a company and their products, with a very easy way to do so, doesn’t mean that you’re anonymous; the genuine reviews collected by these companies are attached to real people with real names, and these things stay online for others to see. When looking for a job, visiting a place, or simply if someone searches for your name, do you really want to be associated with your reviews for the companies you purchase from?
6. Did you change your mind about a certain company or product after the initial stage? Many online reviews platforms offer the possibility to edit and update your original review, since there’s the possibility that the company has fixed the situation and your initial impression of the seller or product has changed. This is very positive both for the customer and for the company, since both the customer and company want to make sure that everything is alright; the reason the customer buys a product is because he wants / needs it, and the reason a seller sells something is because they believe their product is the best.
7. Where are the rest of the customers: what do they have to say about it? There are many customers who purchase products, but most of them (more than 90% of them) prefer not to say anything about the products they purchase or about the company customer service. Of course, it is not mandatory to leave a review, but it seems that not too many choose to leave one.
8. Should online reviews be editable or removable by the seller? This is a tough question: the seller pays the online reviews company to collect genuine reviews, and some of these reviews are just “venting” and complaining, even though the situation has been fixed and the customer is happy in the end.
Should the reviews be editable or removable by the seller – in case that the customer is not willing to remove or update their review, thus not expressing the real situation? Take the case of someone leaving you a review – which is meant to be left for a completely different company (see above) – and yet they don’t want to remove it, and the online reviews company doesn’t move a finger, even though it is a 1 star review.
As seller at www.sparksdirect.co.uk and as employees for Sparks Electrical Wholesalers Ltd, we both receive reviews via trustpilot and feefo and, as individuals, we leave reviews for products we purchase online.
Just as with everything else online and offline, it is up to us to “read through the lines” and figure out what the real situation is.
If you as a customer have any answers or advice on the above questions, leave a comment. And if you as an online reviews platform have any answers to our questions, please leave a comment.
We are hoping this would be a discussion point where some questions are clarified so that some light may be shed on the complicated world of online reviews…