At ConsumerAffairs, we understand the impact negative feedback can have on how brands are perceived in organic search (Google, Yahoo, and Bing). After all, over 70% of our audience visits our site to research brands before they buy products or services they’re researching online. We also understand the positive impact review collection can have on shifting how the brand experience is perceived by the online audience researching brands before they purchase. No brand experience is perfect 100% of the time, but negative experiences tend to get the spotlight due to feedback friction. Third-party review collection tools help solve feedback friction, and there’s a few things businesses should know about third-party review sites and review collection.

Third-party review sites host consumer content — they don’t create it internally

This is an important distinction. ConsumerAffairs is a neutral third-party site that facilitates open communication between consumers and brands. We don’t write reviews, nor do we allow our partner brands to write reviews. Why is that important? First, because consumers trust each other more than any other source of information, including expert reviews. Second, because we never create review content, consumers can be confident that they’re getting the unvarnished opinions and experiences of their peers.

Negative reviews and feedback friction

When brands require a significant effort to share feedback (too many hoops to jump through, or perhaps the review collection approach doesn’t reach customers at the right time/place), customers who are happy with their experience typically won’t go out of their way to share their story. There’s just not enough incentive for the effort to be made without prompting. The result is often an imbalanced view of the customer experience that fails to paint the whole picture of what a brand could offer a potential customer. This is where resources like ConsumerAffairs for Brands can help. However, it’s important to understand review collection may not always flip sentiment from negative to positive: without a brand making efforts to provide a good customer experience, reviews will always remain negative.

For many businesses, review collection makes a difference

At ConsumerAffairs.com, review collection is part of a bigger partnership focused on improving customer engagement. There’s no favoritism to our methods of review collection…in fact, when brands partner with us, they understand there is still a risk that customers will share a negative experience. What makes the difference is the fact that the brand has partnered with us in an effort to improve the customer’s outcome and make sure customers are getting the resolutions they seek through speaking out. We conduct review collection to help gather a broader sampling of unbiased feedback as often as possible. From telephone review collection to email campaigns and social media apps, we offer customers the opportunity to share their own story, whether it is good, bad, or ugly. When brands take customer feedback and make positive changes to customer service and products, the result is happier customers and an increase in new customer volume.

Authentic reviews are top priority

Many review sites offering partnerships only collect positive feedback. Some even allow brands to hide negative feedback instead of allowing consumers to see the whole story. At ConsumerAffairs, we don’t believe this gives consumers the most authentic vision of a brand experience. Instead of focusing only on one side of the story, we work with brands to collect ALL customer experiences. Authenticity and verifiable reviews are of the highest importance to our team, so working to verify reviewers and their stories, regardless of the star-rating, allows us to give our audience the most balanced and authentic vision of what they could expect when choosing to purchase from the brands they’re researching at our site.

We recommend brands take time to research review sites where there is clear evidence of fake reviewers having left feedback on behalf of brands trying to game the system. There are several news stories coming out about fake reviews plaguing review sites. Even when fake reviews are posted after a PR disaster creates an angry mob effect, those fake reviews are left on the business profile, creating a legacy of continued and costly reputation issues. Knowing which sites take action to prevent fake reviews from impacting a brand’s reputation is key to getting the most ROI from a review site profile. We keep a close watch on both negative and positive feedback appearing to be from unauthentic sources, and allow brands to include order numbers or other ways to verify the reviewers leaving feedback.

Our team at ConsumerAffairs.com understands the need to share our mission with consumers and brands

We understand consumer concerns when there is a large number of positive reviews suddenly appearing on our site, and want our audience to know and understand how review collection works so that they can rest assured that we’re working to show them the most accurate brand experience possible. Brands with profiles on our site are always welcome to claim their profile and respond to customer feedback, resolve issues, and invite customers to update their review when a positive outcome is reached — all at no cost. Our paid partnership and accreditation program give brands additional resources to take customer experience and reputation marketing to the next level and generate revenue in organic search.

Brands that choose to partner with ConsumerAffairs are making the effort to offer a better customer experience, and we believe brands deserve that opportunity to make things right with their customers. Everybody deserves to make smarter decisions. Our team is committed to offering resources to both the consumer and the brand so that we can continue to help improve customer experience for everyone involved.