Along with the low barriers to entry compared to setting up shop on the high street, there are rich rewards to be gained in selling goods and services on the internet. Recent research from eMarketer predicts a 17% increase in business-to-consumer (B2C) ecommerce this year, with worldwide sales expected to reach $1.2 TRILLION.
However, the 'bonanza' has a flip-side. These days, the 'typical' customer is just as likely to be based in Bangalore as in Boston, and wherever they may live, consumers may feel entitled to demand that companies deliver on their promises. A global customer base means a diversity of opinions, so dealing with negative reviews for late delivery, poor communication or shoddy goods, is probably the biggest reputation management challenge faced by online retailers on a daily basis.
Aside from making a direct complaint through a company's website, an unsatisfied customer has the choice of going to one or more of the large number of review sites set up to enable them to have their say.
Of course, not all negative reviews are 'legitimate.' Rivals have been known to trash a competitor's reputation while posing as a genuine purchaser orpaying others to do so.
Ultimately, there's very little a company can do to prevent someone from saying something nasty about their brand or products, except to focus on providing excellent service, constantly adapting and continually listening to its customers - even the angry ones.
Reviews are relevant and important to businesses, as revealed in a recent survey by Bright Local, and illustrated in the infographic below, which comes from digital branding agency, Blue Polo Interactive.
Thoughts on customer service, communication and, of course, reputation management.