(PRWEB) August 10, 2005
More and more companies are figuring out how to take advantage of the wealth of customer feedback coming their way. And one company, the online hotel booking agency Skoosh (http://www.skoosh.com), is now taking its customers reviews so seriously it no longer lists hotels which receive a battering from its customers.
Research shows that customer reviews work for a number of reasons. They give a warmth and a personality to what could otherwise be a cold experience of online shopping. Whilst a merchant is unlikely to state that one of its products stinks it is quite acceptable to post such a comment sent in by a customer. They also add an important extra criteria beyond price. Where two products are more or less priced equally that personal recommendation from a review can often be the clincher. And where the customer is overwhelmed by a vast list of products and services they can turn to reviews simply to narrow the choice down to a manageable number for selection.
Some analysts have attempted to measure the significance of the customer review. In a study at the Yale School of Management, comparing the reviews for books at Amazon and Barnes and Noble, it was shown that reviews clearly affect purchasing behavior. The researchers found that there is a direct relationship between the books with positive reviews and their sales levels. Amazon, CNET and many other big names allow customers to sort by review rating, so the highest rated products appear at the top of the list.
But not all companies feel that this is sufficient and the hotel booking and review site Skoosh has taken natural selection by customers a step further by actively blocking the listing of hotels which get consistently bad feedback from customers. As their director of marketing, Dorian Harris, explains, "our brand was influenced by the likes of Amazon, but we're in a different game. Amazon reviews are subjective, and don't represent a comment on their own service. Their customers are not commenting on whether the book is scuffed or there are pages missing but with hotels there is real quality issue. No-one needs to stay at a hotel with broken showers, paper thin walls and sloppy service."
Is this the first in a new era of consumer power? What we see at Skoosh, where the customers not only comment on the product range but directly influence it, could be an idea that makes sense in a wider commercial arena, not just in hotel bookings. It remains to be seen whether other stores take the lead from this innovative site, and give their customers the power to decide what they do and don't stock, based on the quality of the product as perceived by the end user. If so, we could well be moving on from the era of consumer choice to that of consumer superiority over the merchants, who will redefine the meaning of service if they allow themselves to move in this direction.