Monday, 18 October 2010

Web Hints – Customer Ratings and Reviews – why you Need them on your Website.

chris colour for home page lighter There are a lot of things that you should be doing to your website to enhance the overall user experience which will improve your conversion rate, increase basket size, reduce returns and increase customer loyalty. Many of these can be costly, such as full screen zoom, 360 degree spin, showing every item in every colourway and integrating video. To a small to medium sized retailer they can seem completely out of reach.

The one I didn’t mention above is the implementation of customer feedback and product ratings and reviews, which according to Adobe Scene 7’s 2010 Customer Experience Survey is one of the top ranked features on US e-retail sites and which we know can have an immediate effect in uplifting customer confidence and conversion rates.

What we also know is that there’s a major row going on at the moment over the honesty (or lack of it) of some reviews on major websites, with headlines such as ‘over 80% of internet reviews are fabricated’ (Business Computing World) which, incidentally, I believe has to be something of an exaggeration however, the fact that doubt exists is is going to sort out the men from the boys in terms of in-house reviews, which will become less trusted and independent reviews and feedback, which are far more reliable.

The huge difference between the two, apart from a 14% average difference in response rates, is that in-house reviews can be manipulated easily and independent reviews cannot without difficulty, as they are posted only in response to a purchase. This doesn’t mean that reviews are being manipulated across the board, of course they are not, but once consumers lose trust in home grown reviews, independent reviews have to be the way to go.

So here are the main differences if you are considering integrating customer reviews and feedback on to your website.

In-House Reviews

Can be posted on an ad-hoc basis - the customer has to return to the site.

Usually a 1 – 4% response rate

Have few SEO benefits

Provide little management information

Do not reduce customer service

Can be easily manipulated

Have a high up front cost

Independent Reviews

Are prompted by an email after purchase

Average 15 - 18% response rate

Provide constantly refreshed search-friendly content

Can reduce customer service emails by up to 25%

Provide Management information on product and service

Are very hard to manipulate

Cost more long term but less to integrate and then should pay for themselves in benefits.

I work as a consultant with, who provide independent reviews for many major online retailers such as The White Company, Crew Clothing, Astley Clarke and My-Wardrobe, and I’ve also been working with IMRG over the past year to help promote consumer trust online particularly for small and medium sized retailers via their ISIS platform (Internet Shopping is Safe) - offering honest customer feedback is one of the most obvious ways of doing this.

For more information please contact me at ……………………