Through the Internet, not only can organizations reach audiences of unprecedented scale at a low cost, but also, for the first time in human history, individuals can make their personal thoughts, reactions, and opinions easily accessible to the global community of Internet users.
Word of mouth, one of the most ancient mechanisms in the history of human society, is being given new significance by this unique property of the Internet. Perhaps the best-known application of word of mouth is online feedback which is being used by online communities for building trust in electronic markets.
Online customer feedback sites have emerged as a viable mechanism for fostering cooperation among strangers by ensuring that the behaviour of a trader or supplier toward any other trader or customer becomes publicly known and may, therefore, affect the behaviour of the entire community toward that trader in the future. Traders, from hoteliers, restaurateurs, shop owners, manufacturers and professional companies knowing this, have an incentive to behave well toward each other, and their customers because failure to provide great service will result in their companies receiving negative feedback on line.
The Growth of Online Customer Feedback and Service Rating sites
On line supplier rating sites have been increasing across the globe as new on line technologies, applications and social media capabilities have grown. The growth of online supplier rating sites in online marketplaces is particularly interesting, because many of these customer rating sites would probably not have come into existence without the internet and the growth of customer controlled content. The customer is not only controlling the content on online markets , but is also determining the quality of products and services by influencing brand and product perceptions on line.
For example, Epinions.com encourages Internet users to rate practically any kind of brick-and-mortar business such as airlines, telephone companies, holiday resorts, and so on. Moviefone.com solicits and displays user feedback on new movies alongside professional reviews. TripAdvisor gives reviews on hotels , airlines and provides travellers’ experiences, thereby impacting the hotel industry in many countries.
Evidence suggests that people are now increasingly relying on opinions posted on such sites to make a variety of decisions ranging from what movie to watch, to what stocks to invest in and what hotel to stay in.
Three Ways in which On Line Word of Mouth Affects Your Organisation
Brand building and customer acquisition.
Online feedback sites can serve as a low cost and, potentially, effective channel for acquiring and retaining customers, complementary to advertising. At the same time, they quickly disseminate bad news that can potentially harm brand equity.
Product development and quality control.
Online feedback networks can assist an organization to better understand consumer reactions to its current product line. At the same time, they reveal this information to competitors and they also accelerate the dissemination of information about product defects.
Supply chain quality assurance.
Industry-wide feedback mechanisms can assist organizations to better assess prospective first-time suppliers; they can also act as a powerful disciplining mechanism that ensures fulfilment of contractual obligations and can potentially lower the legal costs of doing business.
Examples of Popular Global On line Customer Review Sites
Edmunds.com: At Edmunds.com, you can read user reviews for Bentley, Ford, Jeep, Pontiac, Chrysler and every other brand car. Browse by category or make, or check out the new-car road tests, as researched by the Edmunds.com team.
Motor Trend: Find out everything you want to know about cars at Motor Trend. Check out reviews for new and old cars, and witness road tests for convertibles, SUVs, trucks, minivans, sedans and wagons. Don’t miss the site’s special Future Vehicles section.
Amazon.com: Find user reviews for books and movies at Amazon.com. The site will also recommend other items in the same genre to help you shop.
Film.com: Film.com posts everything you need to know about Hollywood news: celebrity gossip, casting updates upcoming movie news and expert reviews. Check out the forums for user reviews and find out what the public really thinks about the newest releases in theatres and on DVD.
Chowhound message boards: Chowhound is a site “for those who love to eat.” Post your stories, comments and reviews about all things food and dining at the site’s message boards.
Review Centre Food Reviews: This resource is great for finding the best foods and ingredients. Check out the reviews by browsing categories like baby food, chocolate, organic food, or packaged sauces and spreads. Additionally, you can search by brand.
Consumer Search: GPS devices, phones, CD players, camcorders and even cell phone plans are reviewed on this comprehensive site that reviews the reviews. Find honest testimonials from consumers just like you.
Digital Trends: This site features “unbiased consumer electronics reviews.” Read posts from the forum or watch podcasts to find out what other customers really think about the featured products. remedies.
Review Centre Medicine: From pregnancy tests to sinus medications, you’ll find all kinds of helpful reviews at Review Centre.
AOL Body: Search the Drugs and Supplements directory for reviews and information on prescription and over-the-counter medicines
The interactive nature of the internet is allowing customers to appraise, review and influence the quality of products and services that companies supply. Online review sites are adding their voice to social media sites by enabling ordinary people to comment about brands in a way that has never happened before on such a global scale. These sites will continue to gain influence and impact the services that companies provide because on line reviews can mean an increase in sales or doom and gloom for a business.