The importance of online reviews for a business or product cannot be understated. With the rapid expansion of the digital marketplace, an online review can function as a personal recommendation and give key insights to the buyer. As many retailers shift from brick and mortar to online stores, reviews have become more available and widely used by both the consumer and the supplier to increase sales and increase customer confidence when purchasing. Reputation management companies have adapted to utilizing online sentiments via reviews, ratings, etc. In fact, there are independent enterprises that have the sole purpose of managing and bolstering your online reputation through digital marketing and other strategic efforts. Moreover, the review has positioned itself as a powerful indicator of quality, experience, and credibility within our economy.
Thus, it comes as no surprise that online reviews have become the most important to online shopping behemoths, like Amazon, who have created an online all-in-one marketplace. Shoppers have adapted to this new method of purchasing. Given this shift in consumer behavior, reviews become more valuable as they absorb larger amounts of data and are exposed to artificial intelligence. Larger datasets enable new technologies to draw conclusions instantaneously (e.g. frequently used words in a review) and summarize the reviews on a product or service to their customers.
Several studies show just how much consumers have adapted to utilizing reviews, and ultimately their trust in using those reviews to inform their decision-making. The accessibility and ease of submitting a review, in turn, has created a process flow for users to rate their experience with a purchase and use experiences to become more informed buyers. It’s like free market research!
Portable emoji feedback machine in London City Airport
Accessibility & Ease
One of the primary reasons reviews have become wide-ranging is due to the availability of the reviews and the ease of submitting them. A consumer is less likely to participate in a 10-minute survey than complete a 60-second review. Technology companies have spearheaded and implemented expedited review systems to further obtain transparency within their companies (i.e. employees), and more importantly their customers. Uber provides a suitable example of the accessibility and ease of submitting a review about a customer’s experience using uber. Within the Uber app, accessibility is exemplified by being able to submit a short review within the mobile application on your mobile phone. The ease of submitting is as simple as entering an amount of stars and a brief comment. There are even pre-selected buzzwords chosen to make submitting a review quick and seamless. These types of review aggregation strategies have permeated industries beyond big tech. In fact, we even see buttons in most airports that you can simply “click” one of the three sentiments that best represent your experience.
The accessibility and ease of online reviews has enabled the acceleration of review-driven decision-making in the digital marketplace. What is even more important than increasing the amount of reviews across industries and products, is what we are learning from this immense amount of data. Both consumers and suppliers have accepted these practices as mutually beneficial to all parties involved.
The New Normal
Reviews are neither industry nor product specific in regards to their application and customer utilization. In fact, reading reviews, responding to reviews, analyzing reviews, are all apart of this new normal. Customer satisfaction and enhancement is the goal for the supplier, whereas consumers aim to select the ideal product/service that suits their desires. People read and trust reviews more than we realize and it is an upward trend. Technology has enabled a vast amount of applications and new methods to analyze and draw conclusions from the data. A study conducted by Qualtrics revealed that almost 3 out of 4 people value a written review over a traditional star rating. This consumer preference isn’t much of a surprise given recent trends.
This survey not only represents the consumer preference of a written review, but also implies a willingness to read written reviews for their own benefit and knowledge. We see this shift from star ratings to written reviews in the hospitality industry in particular. The 5-star standard for rating hotels has become secondary to thousands of written reviews recapping actual experiences at the hotel by travellers. In time, and with the growth of technology, consumers have slowly adapted to this investigative decision-making with unlimited access to customer reviews throughout the internet. Vindow, like many travel tech companies, recognized the imprecise nature of the 5-star rating for hotels and incorporate reviews into our own proprietary scoring methodology to provide to our clients. Every customer, organization, company, etc. has their own unique preferences, and it is becoming more important to be able to harness the underlying potential of this qualitative data.
The Review Feedback Loop: Write a Review, Read Review
The feedback loop of writing and submitting a review has accelerated the abundance of review data across the web. Technology has enabled the aggregation and parsing of these reviews into their platforms, creating greater insights for their consumers. This feedback loop has also unified a certain level of trust in review data, between both the buyers and sellers within the marketplace. Reviews help suppliers create or refine a better product or service, whereas consumers have more information and data to choose their ideal product or service. In essence, we’ve taken the “spread the word” marketing approach to a new level, and it has blossomed into an insightful feedback loop between the consumer and the supplier.