Those brands that have embraced customer reviews are now starting to look at how they can drive increased engagement with their customers by facilitating, embracing and in some cases participating in customer to customer conversations, to drive sales and advocacy.
With 89% of consumers reading reviews before some or all purchases, most now see reviews as a must-have for brands.
I met with Jim Davies, Research Director at Gartner recently and we discussed how those brands that have embraced customer reviews are now starting to look at how they can drive increased engagement with their customers by facilitating, embracing and in some cases participating in customer to customer conversations, to drive sales and advocacy.
Many brands, together with their agencies, are already using a variety of social listening tools to try and make sense of buzz generated across the external web of blogs and social networks.
That buzz, whilst valuable to understand sentiment, is generated from a variety of sources and makes it difficult to distinguish which of those opinions come from genuine customers.
There is now, however, a real opportunity for brands to engage with the reviews and conversations of their own customers.Those conversations act as peer to peer support both pre-purchase (see Jessops screen shot below) but also post purchase.
The pre-purchase support drives sales by helping the consumer decide what to buy, whilst the post-purchase support, drives increased advocacy by supplementing the brands own customer service.
Sony has taken this a step further, by enabling their customer service team to jump into the discussion by responding to reviews and joining in the conversation (see Sony screen shot below from their German site).
These early steps are just the first glimpses of what's possible as brands start to consider how they can combine customer insights derived from social content, with their existing CRM and business data, both to enhance customer service, improve products and services, whilst critically driving advocacy and customer retention.
Richard Anson is CEO of Reevoo and a guest blogger on Econsultancy