When was the last time you used the popular online auction site eBay?
Integral to the site experience is a feedback score that appears in parentheses after every buyer's name. It details how many successful transactions they've completed, and let's you build a picture of what their service is like (and consequently whether you should do business with them).
Imagine you’ve found an item that you really love and are about to buy it, but at the last moment you notice that the seller’s feedback score is zero. Let’s call him ‘Zero Feedback eBay Guy’.
How do you feel about buying from someone with feedback score of zero? Not very happy, I bet. What level of risk are you willing to accept on someone with no verifiable business history whatsoever? Are you likely to feel safe and secure when making that purchase, or will you go through with it at all? Probably neither.
I asked these questions at a conference recently and admired a sea of heads nodding in agreement, all from business owners and leaders. Do you share in their agreement?
Displaying independent consumer reviews on your website is exactly the same as having a feedback score on eBay. In 2015, not only do potential customers expect such scores to be readily available, but they’re actively dissuaded when they can’t find them.
So please humour me for a moment while I propose that if you’re not showing reviews on your website, then by default you are Zero Feedback eBay Guy to EVERY potential customer who visits your website. How does that bode? Not very well, I imagine!
Without a verifiable history to your name, you’re merely a faceless nobody with no credentials and nothing to recommend you over the next guy - hardly the foundation of a solid sales proposition.
In many ways, what began as a courtesy statistic within eBay’s closed ecosystem has grown conceptually to encompass the very nature of selling online. On the web we look for the clues of social proof frequently, because it’s all we’ve got to discern the good from the bad.
You can buy a nice-looking website template for $100 and throw down some marketing buzzwords in half an hour. That might’ve been a clincher ten or fifteen years ago, but today everyone looks good and sounds good.
What you say you are isn’t nearly as critical as what other people say you are. Consumer reviews are a neat, centralised method to deliver that sentiment precisely where and when it matters most.
So back to that item you love on eBay.
Put-off from Mr Zero Feedback eBay Guy, you’ve found the same item from someone else with a feedback score of 20. Admittedly, it’s not much of a track record but they’re all positive. And sure, the item costs a little more compared to the other guy, but how much better do you feel knowing that twenty other humans have had a great experience with him?
I’d rather be reassured than save a few dollars, don’t you agree?
Click. Buy. And now he’s got twenty-one.