Five Stars: The Importance of Customer Reviews

Ally Feiam By Ally Feiam | 26 Jun 2019

Reviews are an extremely important factor in any e-commerce strategy. Reviews.io explains the importance of authentic reviews for a brand and why fabricated ones can damage a brand’s image.

As the influencer bubble begins to burst, the power of reviews is now stronger than ever. While there are many people who trust the insights provided by online celebrities and other influencers, it seems that reviews from other shoppers remain the strongest and most trustworthy way to find a reputable product online.

Reviews.io is an online customer feedback portal, which has recently launched in Australia. Founded by Callum McKeefery and his wife, Nikki Albano in 2010 in Leicestershire, the two were tired of seeing review platform charge excessive amounts for ‘basic features’ and enforcing long-term contracts. The pair experienced massive growth rates, seeing employee numbers double twice over, which then helped them launch in the U.S. This year, its global growth hit 65 per cent, with large clients such as Google and Bing coming on board, making Reviews.io a Trusted Partner. The business is now celebrating the opening of its Aussie office in Sydney.

So, what’s the significance behind an authentic review for customers and brands? “88 per cent of people trust reviews as much as personal recommendations​. The authenticity of reviews is therefore paramount. A review can dictate the spending habits of consumers, often on expensive life-purchases such as cars, insurance, kitchens and travel. It’s our job to make sure that customers can access genuine, impartial, reliable information about these services and products, and the only way to guarantee this is by authenticating reviews,” explained Tom Goodwin, the COO of Reviews.io.

Product reviews often give further insights into a product that a brand doesn’t specify on the product page. As an example, if someone is wishing to buy a skirt online, the website will specify the size, colour and the image of the product. However, the reviews of the same item will go into further detail, outlining the fit of the skirt, how it washes, and the quality of the overall fabric, etc. “Product reviews provide a real insight into the specifics of items, which the product description usually doesn’t offer. Things such as true sizing, quality after washing, how much the fabric creases, the smoothness of the zip – these are small but incredibly important things that steer Chloe’s decision towards the perfect skirt,” said Goodwin.

How Can You Tell the Difference Between an Authentic and Fake Review?

Unfortunately, there is no way to be 100 per cent sure that a review that a customer is reading is authentic unless there’s some investigative work done prior. “There are few ways to spot a fake review. Fabricated reviews are often very vague. They are normally ​so​ generic that they could be swapped for an entirely different business and not look out of place. Another sign is customers using a strange avatar – those being paid to review seem to have a thing for using cartoons in the place of a photo, or even a blank image,” explained Goodwin,

“If you’ve got a little more time, one of the best ways to detect a fake review is by identifying other suspicious activity. If you click on the user’s name on Google Reviews or Tripadvisor, you’ll be able to see a list of all the feedback they’ve left. Looking at the timeline and also the content of the other reviews should give you a pretty clear indication as to the authenticity of the reviews. “

Why are Fabricated Reviews Dangerous for a Brand’s Overall Strategy?

Although requesting positive reviews from friends, family members and employees may seem like a good short-term solution for a brand’s image, it’s strongly advised to avoid it, as it can do more harm than good. “One of the most important things for brands to understand when collecting online feedback is the different types of benefits they bring. It’s not all about online reputation – reviews also help customers become more informed to enhance their shopping experience, and help businesses themselves get feedback in order to improve and keep moving forward,” Goodwin said.

“When companies focus on their reputation alone, and pay for fake reviews to be left about their business, they miss out on these other benefits. But that’s just the beginning. If businesses are found to be collecting fake reviews, it usually causes serious damage to their reputation. They lose both trust and respect from customers, which is hard to win back.”

What’s So Important About Reviews?

For e-commerce professionals, the entire purpose of a review is to place trust into the hands of the customer. “Without products to see, touch, and try, and sales assistants to advise and build rapport, reassurance must come from elsewhere. Reviews are able to do this, not only by showcasing reliability and authenticity of the business, but by providing extra information that puts confidence in customers – they don’t need to try the top/microwave/pram because someone else has for them,” explained Goodwin.

If an e-commerce platform doesn’t utilise the reviews that are banking up, its’ missing out on a huge opportunity for success, and may see its competitors get pushed further. This is especially the case for those who encourage and celebrate customer reviews and feedback.

Reviews.io has opened its first office in Sydney, adding to the large client base it currently has. “We’ve just opened our office in Sydney, Australia, and are working extremely hard to quickly learn more about and adapt to our new market. We already have a good number of clients on board, with lots more to come. Our solution is one of the most advanced on the market and next month we introduce our latest new feature which will enable our clients to increase they reach even further with their customers’ insights,” Goodwin said.

Reviews.io has launched a new widget, Elements, which gives customers all the information they could want in an information-rich SEO-friendly website review widget.

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