Should Kenyan businesses embrace online reviews?

The digital space in Kenya has erupted over the last few years, with online conversations creating a new phenomenon: the new age political and social commentator. The ‘State of the Internet in Kenya 2016’ report by the Bloggers Association of Kenya provides good insights into what exactly is at stake for consumer focussed companies: 2.2 million active monthly Twitter users, 6.1 million Facebook users, 10 million WhatsApp users.

An increasing number of companies are cleverly using social media to increase revenues by innovating marketing, improving customer engagement and tapping into referrals from loyal customers. Transparency and disclosure are becoming key demands from customers. As a result, customer reviews are increasingly becoming a go-to source for trusted information. Search for any business online today and you will most likely find reviews about that business too. These digital conversations have significantly changed how customers interact with and evaluate companies they consider doing business with.

A global survey by Nielsen indicates that 71% of their respondents (from the Middle East and Africa survey population) trust consumer reviews and opinions posted online and also take action based on them. Another study by Trustpilot and Cambridge University gave further insights into the increasing influence of online reviews on customer buying behaviour: 77% of the surveyed population actively read online reviews before making a purchasing decision and 62% claimed that they are more likely to do business after reading a positive review.

The socially and digitally savvy customer is here to stay. It can be very easy for a company to be drowned in the deluge of social media channels available and the accompanying unstructured ‘big data’. It’s no longer sufficient for a company to have a social page and be content with large volumes of followers, likes, pins, etc. A true measure lies in the ‘So what?’. How much engagement is your business driving, how accurate is that data and to what extent is customer feedback being acted upon to offer an improved experience to the consumer?