Should you encourage product and service reviews on your website?

Author -  Allan Kent [Guest]

Of course you should! If you intend to stay in business and grow, then you need to believe in what you're selling and have the confidence to back it.

Only 'Fly by nighters' don't need to worry about quality or value for money as they don't intend to be around to handle all the complaints!

Product reviews by other customers rather than professional reviewers can give a huge confidence boost to other potential customers, especially if they can see the mechanism available for posting their own reviews after purchase.

Peer reviews are incredibly powerful, because they tend to be given genuinely. The perception can often be with professional reviews that they may have other motives or incentives for what they say. Consider the movies or show business in general. What do you make of professional reviews? Yes, you probably read them and may take on board what is said, but how much notice do you really take? On the other hand when a friend or even an associate, tells you of a great experience (or poor) they've had at a film or show,  it often has a huge influence on whether you go or not. The reason – the opinion is given freely and is typically unbiased. They've got nothing to gain or lose whether you go or not.

'But what about if people post negative reviews?' I hear you ask. When we have a bad experience we naturally tell others about it – its human nature. Indeed we tend to tell more people about bad experiences than we do good ones! This means a bad experience is going to get bandied about anyway, especially with social media making this so much easier. The end result – you'll be found guilty without having defended yourself.

However, doesn't it make sense to try and provide a controlled environment for this – i.e. your own website or Facebook page?  This way you get to address it publicly and put your side of the story across if necessary, or better still, accept responsibility and show everyone just how effectively you deal with issues.

We all make mistakes, but by the same token, we appreciate it when people own up and go out of their way to put matters right.  In fact the way we deal with negatives can very often turn into huge positives and reinforce in peoples minds that they will be dealt with fairly by us when buying from us.

Another huge benefit of reviews is the market intelligence they deliver. Positive reviews reaffirm that we are offering and delivering what the market wants. Negative reviews often tell us exactly what we're not getting right and therefore give us the opportunity to put matters right. Most restaurants I've ever been to routinely ask if I was happy with the meal.  Normally I am, but when I'm not and get asked this question, if they seem genuinely sorry, and do what they can to put matters right, I tend to give them another go. Like many of you I suspect, I'm not  the type to initiate a complaint, so if I'm not given the opportunity, I voice my protest by not ever going back and by telling people I know about my bad experience.

So, our advice – encourage feedback, whether as direct product reviews, or within your blogs or Facebook, monitor it constantly and address it quickly and positively when required.

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