The Internet Ratings and Consumer Decision-Making
How often do you take the time to read a product or service ratings before you proceed to checkout or booking?
Different surveys suggest that a vast majority of consumers always read product or service reviews before making any purchase online. Reviews and ratings rank very high among the top factors impacting our decision to make a purchase, coming in at a second place, just behind price.
Today, a great deal of our lives happens online. Thus web users are encouraged to rate and review the products and consumers services, and this even includes rating physicians and medical services.
We lead busy lives and our daily schedules don’t leave us much time to browse through shops in search for desired products or look door-to-door for a vacation package or a medical service. Online shopping and services are fast, convenient and time saver for the consumers thus providing an invaluable service.
Yet, this convenience has its price. Obtaining goods online usually comes with the uncertainty regarding the quality of the products we buy or services we get.
With more and more aspects of our lives transitioning to the digital domain, ratings and reviews, also known as electronic word of mouth, become increasingly significant for both consumer and provider.
If you run an online business, you are very well aware of the importance and the effect the good reviews may have. A good review can make your business grow. A bad one can literally destroy it.
When looking for the best hotel for your family vacation, do you randomly pick one from the list? Or you systematically go through various hotels’ reviews before deciding which one is the best for you and your family?
Similarly, when searching for a physician or attempting to book a medical appointment, the patients like to see medical provider’s ratings and reviews.
Why do we need to see the ratings before making a choice?
The Impact of an Authentic Review
Other people’s experiences matter. We trust what other people say and this influences our consumer behavior. A personal recommendation helps us verify the seller’s or provider’s trustworthiness and quality. According to a survey by BrightLocal and YouGov, 91% of people read online reviews while 84% of consumers trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation.
An honest review can help you in many ways. It can provide a reliable information about the service or the product you want to purchase, reassure you that you are making the right choice, encourage you to make a purchase and provide a sense of security.
Therefore, a good review increases our confidence about our judgments and the choices we make. And this becomes especially important when it comes to obtaining services related to our health and overall well-being.
Reliable Information about the Product
To begin with, an authentic consumer’s review can tell you if the item is worth buying. Good products always have a lot of positive ratings that are based on users’ personal experiences. Similarly, products that continuously get bad reviews definitely won’t attract your attention.
Furthermore, a mix of positive and negative ratings increases the credibility of both the website and the product/service, thus encouraging us to trust the seller.
For example, seeing only positive reviews of a certain medical office on one site, but negative reviews of the same office on other sites may be a helpful information too – you will assume the office is deleting the negative reviews and choose not to trust them.
A mix of both positive and negative reviews provides the information about the service or product reliance and creates trust.
A survey by Dimensional Research showed that positive online reviews influenced a decision to buy a product in 90 percent of consumers. At the same time, 86 percent of participants said they have been put off by negative online reviews in the past.
One of the main reasons for reading online ratings is our need to be reassured that we are making the right choice. It is not a secret that we make purchases based on our emotional choices. Rational thinking only serves to justify our emotional choice.
Sometimes, we simply ‘fall in love’ a certain product thus believing that it will fulfill our expectations. Then we read the product’s positive reviews, to justify our expectation and reassure ourselves that we’re making a good choice. This is known as expectancy effect – a cognitive bias that influences our behavior on an unconscious level.
Those five yellow stars next to a medical service or a hotel you want to book send a message that their service is safe, reliable, and of high quality. This rating information ensures the transparency of the business since it provides a straightforward information. It also provides a sense of security about your decision to make a booking and boosts your confidence. Furthermore, good ratings encourage awareness that we are investing in the right thing, which increases our mood and self-esteem.
As consumers, we need to feel confident about the choices we make. Others’ opinion can greatly influence not only our decisions but also our preferences and judgment. In today’s digital era, this becomes increasingly significant, as other people’s opinion expressed through ratings and reviews about a vast variety of products and services can determine our decision and our behavior. Thus online ratings have the power to ensure security, justify our choices, and boost the confidence in our decisions.
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