How to improve reputation on E-commerce? Online reviews!

Online reviews have become one of the most popular forms of word of mouth since reviews posted by customers on websites like Yelp, TripAdvisor, Google and also Facebook can obviously affect the process of purchasing decision making and improve the reputation of business. Hence, it is important for marketers to understand customers’ opinions and attitudes towards online reviews about their products and service. There is survey shows the increasing credit the customers give to online reviews, which indicates the growing impact that online reviews have on customers. What is more important is the timing that customers read the reviews. Most of customers usually already make the decisions upon the purchase before they make orders. Thus the positive online review appears to have the critical influence on customers’ purchasing decisions.

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However, it is necessary and essential  to make sure that you have the solutions to handle the negative reviews since reviews are all subjective and persona, which is hard to measure. Both positive and negative reviews should be viewed as opportunities for brand to build reputation. In this post, we try do find what are the pros and cons of online review, and what the brand can do to get benefits from those online reviews. The most important fact is how to manage it, and how to improve the reputation of brand.

What is the advantage of online review?

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For an online business, online customer reviews sometimes are more important than profits, especially in the beginning stage, since they greatly affect business reputation and customers’ purchasing decisions.

Positive online reviews are working as free advertisements and peer recommendation. Those reviews show that your business is on the right track. Twenty years ago, when you launched a product, you invested much money making advertisements or inviting celebrities to expose your products to the public and tried to convince them that the products were worth purchasing. Today, within online reviews, all those processes are free. Your customers can introduce your products then recommend them to others online buyers. They stand in the consumer’s point of view, telling the mass why the product is worth buying. Such kind of mass exposure can hardly be offered through traditional marketing approach.

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Negative online reviews raise concerns and bring suggestions for the business to further improve. It seems that every business will receive some negative reviews, for example, the shipment is late or the products do not meet the expectation. However, negative reviews can have positive impact. An efficient and appropriate response with effective solutions will reverse the bad impression. Actually, business with online reviews offer a transparent bilateral platform for a closer relationship. Without online platforms, customers may complain to other people about your business, which you will never know. However, online reviews help you to know what your customers’ opinions and comments while you are enable to show your efforts and improvements through the responses publicly.  

What is the disadvantage of online review?

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Online reviews can truly build a stronger online presence, but they aren’t necessarily total beneficial. What are the cons related with online reviews? In particular, there are four items of cons that companies need to take into account during the process.

It is very difficult to control the number and rate of positive and negative reviews. If there is just one piece of comment, will you make the decision of buying? Of course, you won’t. However, if there are too many reviews including both positive comments and negative comments, can you quickly decide whether buy this product? Maybe this situation would further stall sales of products and increase shoppers’ wariness. And negative review can certainly give shoppers a bad impression, but also no negative review would cause customer suspect that the reviews are fabricated.

Customers mostly put more weight into negative information versus the positive one. As for online review, it is more difficult to control the appearance of vindictive or damage information. Competitors can easily fabricate something bad about the product which may not be removed out. So it is a major drawback that the company doesn’t have the filtered ability to manage online review.

Furthermore, is it easy task to keep reviews current and up to date? And how does company filter effective feedback and get an accurate summary after collecting abundant review? As a result, most company choose third-party review sites to finish this task. But the biggest problem is to determine if the profit balances the cost.

How to manage Online reputation?

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So, at the purpose of improving the image of brand then building an higher online reputation, how could brand fix those problems. First, from the perspective of reviews, the brand should encourage the customer leaving their own opinion, even if it is a risky move that may create some the negative reviews. The reason why is that online reviews is a platform that information is exchanged between brand and customer. Customers are used to express their “voice” through internet, hoping that the comment can drawn attention. The key question for brand is how to select the real useful suggestion from genuine and fake. At here, the brand have to take authority into account. A service such as the Rights Management Services, Client can only function in conjunction with your email address. Also, for instance, the real-name system do work for educing false and malicious comments. By applying those kind of regular and theological service, brand can create a green place for their customers in which they can easily find useful information that they need.

Second, from the customer’s standpoint, what brand must pay more attention to manage is about properly handle the negative reviews. Assuming that you were choosing a hotel in internet, you scanning the online reviews, and you have to choose one out of three. You may give up an hotel since one of the comments said “ bad service”, which actually is not such bad. Comments, like “bad decoration”, or “ugly color of carpet”, are personal and based on individual’s emotion and judgment. The problem is that visitors excessively care about negative review, instead of concerning numerous but positive reviews. Brand could directly respond the negative or unpleasant comments, trying to become a responsible communicator. At the same time, scoring system or star-level standard is applied to count the whole review objectively, which bring visitors a straightforward impression and a valid information. Besides, depends on the influence of communities, brand could launch “selective comment”. That is to say, brand selects some high-quality comment to advertise themselves. For instance, consumer leave a comment within upload real picture when they finish their consumption, which is true and helpful. Those approaches are effective to improve the image of brand and promote the online reputation.

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In the end, an effective management of online reviews can “save” the online reputation in difficult position! So, learn about your customer and the information that you already have, and think from understanding and empathy. Be more valuable!

Authors: Chenwen LIU; Jiahui ZHANG; Xiangting WANG; Yuanqing CAO

References:

Chen, Y. & Xie, J. (2008). Online Consumer Review: Word-of-Mouth as a New Element of Marketing Communication Mix. Management Science, 54(3), 477-491. http://dx.doi.org/10.1287/mnsc.1070.0810

Kertson, D. (2014). Online reviews: do consumers really use them? Launch Digital Marketing. Retrieved 4 November 2016, from https://www.launchdigitalmarketing.com/online-reviews-do-consumers-really-use-them/

Lee, J., Park, D. H., & Han, I. (2008). The effect of negative online consumer reviews on product attitude: An information processing view. Electronic commerce research and applications, 7(3), 341-352.

Thompson, A. (2014). The Pros and Cons of Online Customer Reviews. Irpcommerce.com. Retrieved 3 November 2016, from http://www.irpcommerce.com/en/gb/IRPStrategyCenter/ReadArticle.aspx?TopicID=55

Wu, P. F., Van der Heijden, H., & Korfiatis, N. (2011, August). The influences of negativity and review quality on the helpfulness of online reviews. In International conference on information systems.

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