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Don’t be afraid of reviews

Businesses must lose fear of comments

  • Key4Communications
07/10/2011

Many manufacturers and retailers continue to fear the internet, and insist on keeping a minimal presence controlled to the maximum. One of the most frightening things the internet has brought to trade are comments and reviews of products. Many companies are not open to social networks, for example, because they don’t want to see how an unsatisfied client criticizes their products or services.

But according to marketing experts, there is no reason to be afraid of these comments, and businesses should even encourage them.

The new word of mouth
Internet is just a great conversation, as it has been said many times before. Except that now we speak not only to friends and family, but also to everybody through social networks like Twitter and Facebook, as well as through forums, blogs and pages created just to publish user reviews: Tripadvisor for hotels and Yelp for restaurants, for example.

Word of mouth becomes universal: we don’t only follow the advice of family and friends, but also of people we don’t know, but, “is like us”, in words of Jim Lecinski, director of sales and service of Google and author of The zero moment of truth.

According to this book, 70% of Americans read online reviews of products before making a purchase and 83% of mothers seek these product reviews after watching TV ads. This applies both to expensive and economic items. As post-its.

This means that if we are not present in the internet, we do not exist. Also, if a company closes its Facebook page for comments, for example, users who want to talk about its products will simply take the conversation somewhere else. The company then loses a source of free information about its customers' preferences: thanks to online reviews, firms can always see what people think about their products. Consumer surveys, for example, cost time and money.

People talk about what they like
There is another factor that is often overlooked: most reviews are good. According to Lecinski, “80% of all reviews online are four to five stars.” It should not surprise anyone: if the product is good and also works well in the market, why would it not work well on the Internet, if the same clients are talking about it?

Lecinski also explains that "negative comments add authenticity": it is more credible to see that there is a dissatisfied customer from time to time than to believe a page full of immaculate five-star reviews.

Management of negative comments

Okay, sometimes there are unfair negative comments, also even downright insulting. And companies may need to do something about them. It is hard to say, but, for example, they could:

-Do nothing. If a client did not like a product or service, the company cannot do anything but make a note if criticism is reasoned and accurate. And remember that a negative comment surrounded by fifty adds authenticity. People will believe more easily this other fifty good reviews.

-Answer. You can respond politely, but obviously without going into discussions. For example, explaining some aspect that the customer has not considered or even inviting him to try other services that may be closer to what they are looking for.

-Act. If the company made a mistake (did not send a product, or charged an incorrect amount, for example), it’s best to answer with an apology and a promise to fix it as soon as possible. And then keep the conversation private (by e-mail or by phone).

In short, if the product is good, comments will also be good. If the product is bad, the company needs to improve it, but clients are not to blame.

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