Increased Consumer Review Transparency Puts the Consumer in Control
Illustration by Nick Barrett

Ernst & Young’s study, The Digitisation of Everything: How Organisations Must Adapt to Changing Consumer Behaviour, sheds some light on a key challenge that businesses face as they make the move toward digitizing customer service—the loss of control over the customer relationship.

The communication and collaboration that takes place in the digital world is changing the way consumers engage with businesses. Whereas brands used to control the flow of information to their customers, today’s consumers have real-time, mobile access to pricing, product features and values, and other knowledge that they need to make informed buying choices.

In addition, today’s consumers, and the digitally savvy in particular, trust recommendations from friends, family and peers over businesses, and they tend to not only seek out the advice from their peers, they’re very willing to share their own feedback.

According to the report, 78% of consumers trust peer recommendations versus 14% who trust advertisements. Brands need to pay attention to Gen Y’s constantly connected, collaborative and highly social characteristics, the E&Y authors state, since “they are determining the way digital communication technologies are being used, and are initiating social behaviors that are transmitted to other generations.”

REPORT RECOMMENDATION: Identify and engage with your brand’s “prosumers.” The report defines prosumers as consumers who are unusually interested in a brand’s products and/or services. As the authors point out: “[Prosumers] will dedicate their spare time to upload reviews and comments and respond to other reviews and comments about the product. These individuals can be very useful sources of product development ideas, or can be incentivized as a low-cost provider of technical service to other consumers.”

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