The Real Value in Customer Ratings and Reviews

man_pc.jpg  It’s a pleasant surprise that a report sponsored by Bazaarvoice showed that 28% of online retailers currently use customer ratings and reviews, and over 50% plan to include this feature.  Consumers find the reviews helpful (I usually do), and 79% of retailers surveyed believed the major benefit was improved conversion rates.

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The report describes social commerce as “all about giving both existing and potential customers the means to interact with each other and to make better buying decisions.”   Which made me pause and wonder. If it’s about allowing customers to interact with each other, then how many online retailers allow a potential customer the ability to really interact with the one who wrote the review?  I know there are many times I would really love to ask the reviewer a question because the review didn’t cover what I wanted to know.  Since most reviews are posted soon after purchase, I’d also like to ask them if they still feel the same way after a few months of ownership. 

I looked at amazon and circuitycity.com for that ability, but they don’t seem to have it.  Are there any online sellers that have this functionality?  That type of inteaction would be really valuable to customers.  Reviewers could opt-in to be contacted, and shut it off it gets to be too much.  There is the worry about spam and the need for confidentiality, but the technology exists.  Craigslist allows people to interact through anonymous email addresses.  Am I too late with this, too early, or did I just give away a gem?

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