The next time you're about to write a customer review, think about how far your words could go. From the retailer's website… to Facebook… to a blog… to maybe even the c-suite.
Customer reviews are carrying more clout than ever before—and a growing number of retailers are tracking every word that's said about them in cyberspace.
"Many companies now have dedicated employees who do nothing but troll the Internet for corporate references, monitor chat rooms and online forums where there could be a discussion of the brand," said Tod Marks, Consumer Reports Senior Editor. Companies will even follow what's said on marketplaces like Amazon about their products, he said. It can be imperative to intercept a potentially negative discussion and rectify a problem before it goes viral.
"They have to take these things seriously. There are more avenues for consumers to go negative on a company and be heard by a variety of people," said Marks. "Things tend to snowball."
He adds that the effects can be instantaneous—especially when you add the ease of smartphones into the equation. Bad service at a store? A customer could quickly vent about it on Twitter. The next thing you know a few friends re-tweet it and it spreads like wildfire.
Best Buy is an example of a big box retailer putting a larger emphasis on its customer reviews. The company, which is in the midst of a turnaround effort, said it shares feedback with vendors and has taken a range of actions based on the reviews. In fact, it rewards some customers with special points to use towards future purchases for completing reviews.