30 December 2015

Are you Monitoring Customer Reviews During the Holiday Season?

For the past decade my mother watched as my siblings and I learned how to text, take pictures, play games and browse the internet on our cellphones. On her 55th birthday, I gave my mother her very first smartphone.

New_ImageAs a baby boomer, she’s had to embrace the technological divide between generations. Let me tell you, giving troubleshooting advice over the phone to a parent really emphasizes the age gap in technology. Many of you can relate I’m sure – either being on the receiving or instructional end of that phone call. What I thought was a simple question, “which smart phone do you want?” turned out to be an experience in the concept of consumer reviews.

After I asked my mom which phone brand she preferred, she responded, “which one’s better, the iPhone 6S or Samsung Galaxy S6?”. Like many consumers do before making a purchase, I told her to go online and look at reviews for each phone.

Consumers increasingly buy online and according to e-consultancy, 61% of customers read online reviews prior to making a purchase.

Because consumers have endless access to information from any device, they spend more and more time online. During Christmas time, when buying for friends and family, reviews become even more important as stakes run high when trying to select the perfect gift.

Consumers read reviews to:

  • Determine what their needs are
  • Understand the basic features and functions of the product
  • Compare costs with similar products
  • See how likeminded consumers feel about a product

Determine their Needs

The first bullet alone should catch your attention. Product reviews have the ability to change a consumer’s purchasing behavior. Consumers don’t always know what they want when they look for product reviews; therefore, they look to the community to help them figure it out. Organizations that track consumer behavior online have a much greater understanding of selling attributes to improve upon products. They also gain key insight on marketing messaging that impacts consumer behavior.

Understand Product Specs

Of course your webpages and spec sheets on partner sites will highlight the best features of a product, but consumers purchasing a technology gadget will become Sherlock Holmes and will dig deep to get to know the basic functions and parts of the product they’re interested in. For example, when reading reviews for smartphones online, my mother saw the word, “RAM” used in comparisons. Not being the most technologically savvy person, she looked up what RAM is, what it does, and then decided if it was important to her (FYI RAM stands for random access memory and is the memory that stores the data a phone is currently juggling; it’s important because it effects the speed of your phone). If your consumers are digging for information and have to leave your website because you don’t provide deep product insight – this could be unwanted friction to the customer. Your organization should provide baseline knowledge, so customers can have more trust that a product review is credible.

Determining How Much to Spend

It’s important to keep your competitive price monitoring up to date as you can lose sales if you don’t know where you’re priced in relation to your competitors. According to a study by NPD, 85% of consumers say the price needs to be right before they buy. Today, the cost of a product includes its price, brand and credibility. If you can’t compete with the brand, compete on price.

Listen to the Community

The Boston Consulting Group reported that over 50% of B2B customers trust recommendations from friends and peers when making their purchasing decisions. Companies can invest in marketing campaigns, but the most powerful sales driver for many is a recommendation from a Brand Ambassador. The most important value Brand Ambassadors bring is trust, so you can’t “hire” real Brand Ambassadors, you must “earn” them and in turn transform your most loyal customers into your volunteer sales force. For example, many athletic brands give free products to consumers if they will take photos and post reviews of them – it’s great advertising at a low cost. Also – depending on the review content, likeminded consumers will assess whether the product is worth the price.

Consumer Reviews Come in Many Forms –  Track Them All

As my mother started her research, she saw that reviews came in many forms – unboxing videos, written, and the typical 5-star rating system. Each has its own merits.

Unboxing Videos

Unboxing videos allow readers to visually see the product live with a genuine feel from the reviewer. Live video has grown popular among the millennial generation and requires technologically savvy reviewers to record and post. The videos can get rather lengthy and detailed as the reviewer plays with the features of the product; however, consumers increasingly use these reviews over others because they get to see the excitement someone else has while enjoying the product. Emotion is a powerful persuader in consumer purchasing decisions. While it’s harder for organizations to automatically extract insight from video footage someone else posts about a product –including easily accessible video footage of consumers engaging with your products on your website is quickly becoming the norm.

Written Reviews

Written reviews vary greatly based on the writer and can easily be biased based on the customer service the reviewer experienced. The review can be as curt as a one line curse word or as lengthy as a passionate love letter of how a product has changed a consumer’s life. The written review sums up how the product meets or fails to meet expectations, often citing performance, reliability, quality and defects. This is where your digital monitoring software will prove most helpful as you can monitor, pull reports and respond to consumers to extend customer experience beyond the product purchase.

Validity in Numbers

The 5 star rating system, as seen on Yelp and Google, is the simplest type of consumer review. Google is often the first place a customer goes to research reviews. They see it as unbiased and an easy way to access global input. Because of this, organizations pay attention to commentary left on it as a tier 1 digital channel.

Why Consumer Reviews are Important

Consumers complete product research ahead of time in order to identify which reviews are worth listening to. They pay attention to commonalities and are even aware that overly glowing or negative reviews don’t contribute to a complete product picture. Often if they are reading a review, they have already made the decision to buy but need to determine which product suits them. The importance is in the detail.

A local consumer review survey revealed that 85% of consumers say they read up to 10 reviews before feeling satisfied. Whether you already have an ambassador program, digital listening and response software or a website that is optimized to meet even Sherlock Holmes’ needs, consumers will find the information they need to feel comfortable with their purchase. If not from you – from elsewhere.

In the end, my mother and I combed through 2 comparative websites, highlighting the features and functions of the iPhone 6S and Samsung Galaxy S6 and read consumer reviews from Forbes and The New York Times. Ultimately she chose the iPhone 6S, and when I asked her why she went with Apple instead of Samsung she said, “Because everyone in the family uses iPhones and if I have problems, I can call and ask you for help”.

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Tiffany Liou

Authored bY

Tiffany Liou

I'm a marketer, administrator and general customer experience enthusiast. As a millennial with a background in Communications I've grown alongside technology and cx with the hope to utilize them in both my work and personal life.

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