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Customer Reviews : What's the Value of "I Hate This Umbrella"?
By Lauren Smith
4/12/2011 10:03:00 AM
About a month ago I purchased an umbrella that while not incredibly expensive, was significantly more money than I would normally spend. Made by a German company, I expected this model to solve all my umbrella needs. The umbrella folds down to a tiny, miniscule size in the way that most European things do. It has a snazzy carrying case to keep the contents of my bag from getting soaked. It’s incredibly lightweight and underwent rigorous testing in wind tunnels to prevent breakage. But there's one little thing missing - the auto-open button. Who spends $50 on an umbrella without that key feature? This girl. Oops.

I recognize that it was entirely my fault for not testing the umbrella before removing the tags and throwing away the return receipt, but I wrote a review on their website anyway (so that others would be warned about the absence of this incredibly important auto-open feature).

Within three days, the retailer emailed me and apologized for the disappointment regarding my purchase. They offered to send me a printable return label that I could simply stick on a box to return the umbrella in exchange for a full refund, despite the fact that I’d used it and they wouldn’t be able to re-sell. I found it refreshing that this retailer was intent on making me happy rather than making the sale. And why does this matter? Because I’ll go back to them again and again because they treat me well.

Inviting feedback through online ratings & reviews gives you an immediate, relatively low cost way to listen to what your customers think. It also allows customers to make more informed purchases, which results in less returns. For example, if a buyer discovers that others who have purchased feel a shoe runs a half size large, they will purchase accordingly. But the most powerful aspect of the ratings & reviews feature is for manufacturers to learn how their products performed once in the hands of the customer. Previously, expensive market research had to be performed to collect this data. Now, manufacturers can quickly (and affordably) find out if the wheels on the suitcase weren’t holding up as expected, if the shoe was uncomfortable, or in the best case - the customer loved the item and will buy again.

While many retailers fear giving their audience a voice, I would like to encourage them to rethink that strategy. A comScore study found that consumers are willing to pay 20-99% more for a five star product versus a four star product. Who doesn’t want to make a better margin? And since SEO is king, ratings & reviews gives your site continual, fresh content - a key to appearing high in natural search. By implementing ratings & reviews, you can make your site a community and destination where consumers can share information, research purchases, and leave as happy customers.

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Tags: Ratings & Reviews
Categories: Commerce Insights Blog
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