Reviews Conquer the Training Market
Word of Mouth
Reviews are a powerful tool in today's e-commerce world. Before the rise of online shopping and e-commerce, shoppers and browsers made up their purchasing decisions through direct word-of-mouth (WOM). Traditionally WOM is information about a brand, product or service that is orally transmitted among individuals. WOM is usually spread among a person’s social reach (family member, friend, neighbour, colleague, etc.). Receiving information about a product, brand or service, whether it’s positive or negative, from a person you trust can greatly influence your purchasing decisions. Whether we’ve listened to our parents when purchasing a car, or spoken to the IT guy at work when purchasing a new gadget, we’ve all searched for information from people we trust and whom we think have some expertise on the subject.
Among academics the above phenomenon is explained by the Source Credibility Theory. Source Trust (i.e. the extent to which you trust the communicator) and Perceived Knowledge/Expertise (i.e. the extent to which you think the communicator is an expert or has knowledge on the subject) are integral components of Source Credibility. In essence Source Credibility Theory argues that if the communicator is perceived to be trustworthy and knowledgeable, then the receiver is going to believe the message because the communicator is a credible source.
The Power of Reviews
A big differentiating feature between traditional WOM and online reviews - also known as eWOM - is the lack of face-to-face communication. It is difficult to determine whether you think someone is trustworthy or knowledgeable if you can’t read their body language or know them personally. To overcome these barriers Springest has had to develop its own criteria to determine whether an online review is a credible source of information.
To control for knowledge Springest only allows former training participants to write reviews. Everyone who has followed a training programme (even if not found via Springest) can share their experience by writing a review. Moreover, the review has to be at least 100 words and no inappropriate language is allowed. Thus, reviews will contain sufficient information to give readers a clearer image about the training programme.
To control for trust Springest checks the IP address of each written review and the email address of the sender to avoid abuse of any kind. This permits us to avoid false and spam reviews from either employees, stakeholders or from the competition.
Reviews & E-commerce
A study by Reevoo showed that 88% of UK consumers consult online reviews whilst making a purchase. In the past years we have seen an explosive rise of reviews in the online shopping (food, clothing, cars etc.) and travel industries. And now the education and development market needs to join this wave and embrace the power of reviews before it is too late.
Consumers also see great value in reviews, for example,
73% of car buyers expect to see reviews from other drivers on dealer and manufacturer websites. Reviews have an important stake in the e-commerce future, for exampleTrustpilot.com, a website that collects user reviews, secured $25 million funding to accelerate growth. In fact, nowadays, reviews are an integral part of the online purchasing process.
Reviews conquer the training market
The education and development market is full of reviews. Springest, the education and development comparison website, has internationally gathered 30,000 + reviews from former students, and subsequently submitted this data to an investigation.
Our own data also shows that reviews are a major factor in assessing which course to choose. As an educational provider, every review is a chance for you to advertise the quality of your programmes. On average, courses with 1 review are getting 4 times more pageviews and 3.8 times more brochure requests.
From our study we can conclude that the effect of a review on the choice of what training course to follow increases exponentially.
Bad experiences and lack of time
Common hurdles that providers have to face is the fear of a bad review, or the time it takes to collect a review. Reevoo, in another study, found that negative reviews raise conversion rates and increases the lifetime value of our users. This is because bad reviews increase consumer engagement and trust in your offering while improving customer satisfaction and turning browsers into purchasers. In fact, hiding bad reviews can have negative consequences - reduced sales and diminished customer loyalty. Seeing only positive reviews instills a sense of disbelief dignity. Providers need to see negative reviews as an extra opportunity to engage with consumers.
To help providers gather reviews Springest has two services - a review widget and personalised flyers. Providers can place the widget on their own site for free so that collecting reviews is made even easier. Springest’s widget collects posted reviews and makes them visible throughout Springest’s and the provider’s page. This service speeds up the review process and provides independent assurance to the education provider on their own website. In addition, if requested, we print and send personalised flyers to our providers free of charge so that they can hand them out to their students. These flyers will encourage course participants to submit a review.
Furthermore, the review widget will not only create ratings inside the Springest website, but it will also transform the aggregate review into a Google ranking score. Google's golden stars will show up under Springest's website and under the education and development providers’ website.
And remember, people are very willing to write reviews for many reasons. For example, altruism and reciprocity play an important role in our human behaviour, which is why we let others know when we meet a bad or good provider online, and reward or punish behaviour depending on how we have been treated ourselves. There is a high level of cooperation among anonymous users in online markets, which is why year by year we have seen a steady increase of users leaving reviews.