Internet shopping and reviews have gone hand in hand for some time now. Anyone who is considering spending money online to buy a product or service that they can't see or try before they commit to it has no doubt done their research in other ways - usually by researching the feedback left by previous users.
EBay, Amazon and Trip Advisor are just three sites that have built their own reputation on encouraging third party reviews and now almost every e-commerce site you can think of will have some kind of review or rating system. In short, we're so used to seeing a star rating system or a comment box that if a site doesn't allow reviews we wonder why not.
It's not even just e-commerce sites that allow reviews either. Local Directory sites such as Yell, FreeIndex and ThomsonLocal all allow customers to review businesses, whether the business encourages them or not. This freedom of opinion on the internet means it has never been easier for someone to find out what others think of your business.
For a lot of businesses the ease of getting reviews from clients should be an opportunity to grab with both hands. Surprisingly, many businesses are ignoring this. More worryingly, if past clients have gone online to complain about poor service publicly on a third party website some business owners are taking the attitude of "out of sight, out of mind". I even spoke to one business owner who said that if anyone read online reviews about his business he wouldn't want them as a client anyway!
So do people read reviews, and more importantly do they believe them? PeopleClaim have put together this Infographic looking at some statistical measures of ratings and reviews. They were curious as to how many people were searching for reviews, what they were finding, and what type of decisions they were making based on this information.
What this review of reviews shows is that reviews are an important and integral part of the decision making process and shouldn't be ignored by businesses. This isn't just relevant to retail businesses either, 82% of all consumers considered user generated reviews as Extremely Valuable or Valuable.