Welcome again to Bazaarblog and my inaugural post, the first of many!Leading the services team here at Bazaarvoice is a great privilege because it allows me to experience the word of mouth “transformation” time and time again through our clients and partners.

I get to see curious interest in the many possibilities of word of mouth transform into genuine excitement and advocacy for word of mouth initiatives and the authenticity, transparency, and credibility they bring to a company’s marketing efforts.

Each time, I learn something new and worth sharing with not only the Bazaarvoice team and our clients but with the growing community of those who believe in the customer value and power of word of mouth.

In his first post, Sam outlined the topics we will write about and the ideas we will share through Bazaarblog. I personally aim to share insights and learnings from my day-to-day work with our own customers, and I hope that you find these insights not only educational but motivational as well. So without further ado . . .

Everyone has heard or at some point used the old expression, “Hope for the best, prepare for the worst.” Many companies and prospective clients of ours express this sentiment when contemplating the impact of offering a public word-of-mouth forum, such as product ratings & reviews, to their customers.But here at Bazaarvoice, we’re learning that you should expect the best.

Since our initial launch, the average overall rating across all of our clients and their respective product catalogs has been overwhelmingly positive. Customers really do have great things to say about you, your brand, your staff, and yes, your products! Their conversations are rich, persuasive, even entertaining. They talk about the joy of finding a great deal and the satisfaction of finding a new and unexpected use for a product. They comment and add detail to reviews posted by other customers. They often evaluate and evangelize your products like experts. After all, they are!

But what about negative reviews? Yes, they exist. But not surprisingly, we’re finding that negative reviews are often the most insightful and balanced. They highlight product design flaws (opportunities for improvement), manufacturing defects (feedback for your vendors), and general service-related concerns that might otherwise slip through the cracks, putting many of your customer relationships at risk. Think of negative reviews as beacons, a source of guidance, a powerful call to action.

Rather than preparing for the worst, consumer businesses should embrace the opportunity to come into direct contact with the passion of individual customers. In the process, they will learn an amazing amount about the products, services, and experiences that make their customers want to express themselves. After all, it’s not an easy task to write a detailed and descriptive product review! It requires inspiration, motivation, and time. Understanding that impulse and the factors that drive your customers to do it is the key to building your business!

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