Santa’s not the only one who keeps a list of naughty and nice. We live in the age of consumer empowerment. Consumers can instantly share feedback on a meal at Yelp, a plumber at Angie’s List, even an ex-boyfriend at Lulu. A Harvard Business School study showed that a one-star increase in Yelp leads to a 5 to 9 percent increase in revenue for restaurants. I stayed a hotel recently where the manager literally pleaded with me to leave a five-star review on TripAdvisor.
That means that we also live in the age of consumer entitlement. Everyone’s a critic, literally and with a megaphone. Consumer expectations have never been higher. Grudge reviews rise to the top of Yelp profiles, meaning that one bad experience can do serious damage to a brand’s reputation.
Like it or not, marketers today have to grapple with the effect of online reviews, as I wrote in September. Every product or service now carries a public feedback loop. Granted, not all reviews are fair and warranted. Much of the feedback seems driven by public retribution. Some brands accuse Yelp of biasing which reviews show up based on whether a business advertises. But online reviews are here to stay. If Yelp or Angie’s List didn’t exist, there would be something else. Consumers have always shared feedback on brands. They just didn’t have the platform to share them publicly.
Overall, the online review phenomenon puts the impetus on marketers to pay more attention to their product or service experience (and less trumpeting their features and benefits). That’s a good thing, ultimately, for consumers and marketers.
I’d love to hear examples of how marketers are monitoring and engaging with online reviews.
(Marketoonist Monday: I’m giving away a signed print of this week’s cartoon. Just share an insightful comment to this week’s post by 5:00 PST on Monday. Thanks!)