How Bad Online Reviews = More Sales

dissatisfiedA recent case study analyzed by CNN Money highlights this seemingly unintuitive reality. Why?

1. Customers want reviews, if you don’t provide them, they’ll leave the site to find them (and be far less likely to come back and purchase after leaving).

2. If customers detect that you have only published selected reviews from favored responses, they won’t trust your reviews or your product/service, critically undermining your credibility.

My own use of Apple’s App Store (for iPhones and iPod Touches) supports this. Often times an App will have a lot of negative reviews, sometimes only averaging 2 out of 5 stars, but I still pay for it. Why? I can see what everyone is complaining about and if it’s about features that don’t interest me, or issues I consider only minor, then why would I avoid it? It allows me the chance to make a more informed decision, and removes some of the frustration created by discovering bugs on my own – I expected them.

In some ways it’s crazy that all websites don’t have a customer feedback mechanism, but we’re still in the midst of a giant shift from company-controlled marketing to consumer-controlled marketing. In fact it’s not just the marketing but the very relationships of people to products and services that is being dramatically reshaped.

Will you cling to the past to get left behind or embrace a new interface with your potential customers and find out how much you can grow your business?

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