Let me sum up a conversation I had recently with a member of the production staff of a company I work for.
“Justin,” she began, “Why do you allow just anyone to post product reviews? Too many people are complaining about prices, etc.” I responded with something to the effect of, “Well, consider this. If you’re on website that allows customers to post what they actually think of a product, what impression does that give you of the company?” She then understood my point. When a company is transparent enough to let their customers opinions come out unfiltered, the amount of trust it creates for the website is tremendous. Sure, someone may not buy that particular product due to a negative review, but they are more likely to purchase another because they now trust your website.
Quite frankly, people are tired of hearing what the “marketing department” has to say about a product. They want straight facts from their peers. How did the product perform? Did it meet expectations? Would they recommend it?
This is simply another example of how consumer generated media (CGM) will work its way from socialization sites such as myspace and facebook into e-commerce. Sooner or later, everyone will realize that transparency with customers is the most effective way to gain their trust.