Customer reviews...adding 'trust equity' to a site

Consumer pyschology both offline and online has always interested me.

If you think of the basics of ‘marketing' - word of mouth is one of the most powerful mediums (in both positive and negative contexts).  Postive: we tell everyone we meet how great a service / product is - and that 'greatness' captures share of mind, so when we're prompted, we recall.  Negative experience - and we share with at least 13 people as soon as we can - and again, captures negative share of mind, and so when we get the chance to rant again, we do!  Of course, many of these 'stats' come from the 'offline' arena - and so online and power of viral, we can magnify these significantly.

Offline, we may turn to our trusted ‘influencers'; our friends, colleagues and family to offer advice and suggestions when considering a purchase or service. And online the same ‘influencing' factors exist.

Research has identified that ‘testimonials' and ‘case studies' add ‘trust equity' to a site. And now more than ever, when online businesses are more SEO savvy than ever - it's not necessarily the best companies for service quality that are found on page 1 on Google.

Customer reviews (provided they are transparent and provide both the positive and negative comments) are an effective way to draw in customers, build trust and encourage conversions. As I've mentioned in previous posts, I'd like to see 'search' evolve to include such elements into ‘quality scores' (think Ebay) - so that those that are performing well and providing great customer service are not only reliant upon customers to spread the word - but also search engines promote not just relevant but  ‘quality' service providers - too...

A big call perhaps but hey... relevancy and quality - now that would be impressive. How would it be measured, how would the quality control be measured?  Not sure.  But Ebay seems to have a pretty democratic and effective way of implementing this, not saying it's 100% perfect, but it does provide some form of 'review' - so nothing's impossible.

So what say you...?

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Michelle Carvill is owner and Marketing Director at Carvill Creative - a graphic design and marketing services agency based in Maidenhead, Berkshire.  The agency covers all aspects of graphic design and marketing - covering social media marketing and website planning and website design.