Customer Reviews Drive iPhone Sales – REAL Social Media!

Digital Marketing Tutorial Blog
Dave Ingalls

We’ve all heard the hype about online Social Media – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. And much of the hype is true. But if you’re a small/medium sized company selling your products and/or services online, take my advice about online social media, social marketing, social networking – whatever you want to call it – and start with the basics – let your Customers review your products/services on your Web site.

I don’t know who started online Customer Reviews on their Web site – I’m guessing it was Amazon – at least that’s where I first encountered it when buying books many years ago. Those reviews saved me money and time by helping me find the RIGHT book to buy, and when I purchased the right book, EVERYBODY won! I ended up buying the best, most on-target book for my needs, the author of that book got the sale, and Amazon not only got a sale, they also got a happy Customer (me) who came back again and again for more purchases because I could get many honest opinions of a potential purchase BEFORE I bought it.

And here’s my latest example of why I think online Customer Reviews are the KEY online social media application:

Over the past Summer I was trying to decide what Smart Phone product and wireless plan I would purchase. It was definitely time for me to move on from the “flip phone” era!

Several acquaintances had just purchased the new Apple iPhone 3G and loved it! To get additional Customer opinions, I went to the BestBuy Web site and looked up iPhone 3G phones and plans, then read the Customer reviews (at that time there were well over 100 reviews). The vast majority were very positive about both the iPhone 3G and the 2 year AT&T plan typically purchased with the phone. Because there were so few negative comments, I decided to read them and see what problems iPhone owners had with their purchase. And here’s the first instance where online Customer Reviews helped me with this purchase!

Although few in number, the negative iPhone reviews centered on the phone’s problems with being overly sensitive to moisture and how that could end up voiding the phone’s warranty. Oh Oh!!

A word of advice about BestBuy – don’t buy a cell phone/plan from them. Over the years I’ve had great success with a number of purchases at BestBuy, but my experience at 2 different BestBuy stores for a cell phone purchase was appalling. I couldn’t get waited on at one store (on a Monday night at 6 p.m. – too busy?) and the information I was given by a Rep at the other store was flat wrong! I ended up at the local AT&T Wireless store, got great service, good info and plunged forward purchasing the iPhone 3G phone and 2 year plan.

In the process of making the iPhone/plan purchase at AT&T, I brought up the moisture issue. The Rep was very straightforward with me, explaining where the moisture sensors were located in the phone and why exposure to moisture could be an issue. I then asked if there was any way to avoid it and he suggested I consider purchasing the OtterBox Defender iPhone case (at $49.95). He told me that although the case was not waterproof, it was the case purchased by almost all iPhone Customers who work outside (landscapers, construction workers, etc.). Since I was in the process of buying a package that included a $30 dollar case, the Rep said he could throw in the OtterBox case at a $20 additional charge.

Everything was great for the first few days after the purchase. The iPhone, the plan, the case – everything worked and worked well. And then a problem – every time I touched the iPhone screen thru the OtterBox “interactive membrane” it created what looked like an oily smudge between the iPhone screen and the membrane. And the smudge only got bigger the more I used the phone! Oh Oh!!

And here’s the second instance where online Customer Reviews helped me with this purchase!

I tried googling search phrases like “iphone otterbox problem” and came up with the following explanation of the problem and a possible solution from a very helpful OtterBox case Customer in the OtterBox Web site “knowledgebase”.

First the company info about the problem and their less than satisfactory solution:
How do I get rid of the bubbles/oil-slick on the screen of my iPhone case?
Take the phone out of the case. You will want your hands to be clean, but not just washed. You want to take the palm of your hand (or you can also use your cheek) and press it lightly on the front panel of the OtterBox (the part that would touch the phone screen). It might seem like there will be finger prints that would show on the screen of the phone, but they do not. The natural oils of your skin should help with the oil/bubble look on your screen.

Now for the comment from “Joe” that saved the day for me and a sale for OtterBox!

Comment #1 (Posted by Joe):
I used the case in conjunction with anti-glare screen protector offered by apple, works like a charm and is clean.

The OtterBox disclaimer about Joe’s solution:
**This is a recommendation from an OtterBox customer and has not been tested by the Otter design team. We are currently working on a solution to the “oil-slick” problem that will be implemented on all future cases.

An iPhone anti-glare screen? What the heck is that?! Off I went to the Apple online store to investigate!

Long story short, I ended up purchasing something called the Power Support Anti-Glare Film Set for iPhone 3G at a local Apple Store for $14.95. It was a bit of a pain to get the film seated perfectly on the iPhone screen, but it was well worth the effort!! As if by magic, the oil smudge was gone and has not returned!

Thank you Joe!

Because OtterBox had the good sense to 1) allow Customers to post comments about company questions/answers in their online knowledge base, and 2) because an OtterBox Customer posted comment about a company-untested solution to the problem, and 3) because OtterBox did not completely remove that comment, I was able to solve the problem myself.

The Result: A happy OtterBox Customer instead of an angry, disappointed Customer wanting to return the $50 case for a full refund.

The lesson for companies selling their products/services online? Make your FIRST online social media project the addition of an online Customer Comment section on your Web site! After that’s in place, then think about starting to  “tweet”!

(One last, but very important, company benefit – every time a Customer posts a comment or a product review on the company Web site, s/he is creating online content that search engines LOVE to find and index, and all of that indexed content ends up pointing to the company Web site!)