If there is one thing that characterizes our lives in the age of internet, it is evaluation. It is a mark of our times that we try to quantify every lived experience in terms of a rating, or a right swipe, or a review. It is natural to judge a particular service, be it a cab ride or a new app, in terms of five stars and post it online for others to see. But what existed before reviews? What function do reviews serve for the online transaction?

In a sense, reviews were always there, in terms of public opinion about a product or a service. Since the age of the printing press, broadcasting one’s opinion in the public domain became relatively easier. This gave rise to a new job description – that of a critic. A critic was an expert, who could help you choose between the choices that the industry gave you. Which movie to see? Which restaurant to go to? Which phone to buy? But everyone could not become a critic. You had to study the subject, become an expert, so that you could be given the opportunity to use the mass media to critique something.

Things are vastly different today. Internet and the accessibility it provides, has made it possible for anyone to be a critic. You don’t need to be an expert in food to write a review on review sites like Zomato, and you don’t have to be an expert in technology to write a review for a phone on online sales channels like Flipkart. This is how the internet makes the customer a critic. This is something we are all affected by. We inherently learn to judge a product or a service while we interact with it.

The interesting thing is, from the seller’s perspective, these reviews are about the only thing that matter. A few stats can make this point clearer. According to this 2013 Nielson report, the internet has risen to the most trusted medium after word-of-mouth, leaving traditional media like newspapers and television far behind. It further goes on to state that 68% of consumers trust opinions posted online. It also highlights the importance of star rating when it comes to the trust factor. All these evidences point to how important reviews and ratings are for the online seller, and how they can make or break your business.

It therefore seems imperative that whether or not you like to, you have to deal with reviews as an online seller. To get better at dealing with reviews, one needs a nuanced understanding of the nature and structure of social media, a levelheadedness that only comes with practice and an ability to engage in productive conversation. In this article, we will give a few basic pointers on how to approach customer reviews so that you can employ them to your benefit.

Managing Customer Reviews for Online Sellers

  1. Recognize the Medium

Depending upon the category of product or services that you might be selling, you may encounter various forums that invite customers to review you. Online sales channels like Flipkart and Amazon let customer review products and rate the seller’s performance. Social media networks like Facebook allow users to post reviews on a seller’s or a company’s page. Apart from that, there is no dearth of review sites that provide the customer opportunity to post reviews for particular categories of products and services, like TripAdvisor for hotels, Zomato and Yelp for restaurants and shopping services, or Google reviews for almost everything else. Twitter has emerged as an interesting review forum, especially due to its word limit and the freedom it provides for broadcasting your opinion. We also need to mention the seller’s website, which is the primary space where all these reviews must be consolidated. This is not counting various niche forums and websites that exclusively deal with review and assessment of particular categories of products. Oftentimes it so happens that good reviews get buried under inconsequential information, and it is the seller’s job to utilize them as marketing strategies. It is therefore advisable if you compile all your reviews from various forums and sources and store them in an easily accessible page on your webstore. A good review is useless if nobody reads it.

  1. Generate More Reviews

Study the trends on all your social media pages. You might take assistance from a social media management tool like HootSuite for this purpose. Analyze the data to know how customers interact with your social media persona. The idea is to find interesting ways to bait the customer into interacting with you. For example, the online adventure travel site Alien Adventures aggressively uses social media to prompt their customer into interaction. They regularly allow customers to write blog posts on their website sharing their travel experiences with Alien Adventures. It is also interesting to see how they are using their Instagram page to activate the customer. Through their weekly photo competition, they invite travellers to upload photographs and users to vote for them. Winners get travel credits worth $200. Strategies like these ensure a buzzing social media presence, and allow the user to enter a comfort level where they can interact with you on these portals.

  1. Don’t Shy Away from Bad Reviews

Bad customer reviews are a reality in the online world, and there is nothing much we can do to completely avoid them. However good you are at your business, you are bound to get that one scathing review. This is to be expected, since e-commerce involves such a complicated structure of offline and online systems. The seller, being the face of the operation, has to bear the brunt of mistakes once in awhile. In fact, it is the negative reviews that really matter. The important point to remember is to never take any comment personally and lose your temper. We have seen businesses collapse because the seller could not keep their cool on online forums. A better way is to think of a negative review as an opportunity. If we think about it, a truly negative review is the absence of a review. The fact that a customer takes time out to slander your company’s image online, also means that a door to an interaction has opened. A good example is to watch how Tyrion Lannister negotiates with enemies on Game of Thrones, and learn a thing or two.

These are a few things that you can do to manage online reviews. To know more, get in touch with Browntape. We are India’s leading e-commerce solutions experts, and we are always happy to help!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *