The power of user generated reviews on web sites or general business directories is powerful. Consumer markets ranging from Future Shop to Canadian Tire all permit a level of user generated reviews for products. Why is this crucial to generating sales online?

Firstly, the web is used as a vehicle to research new purchases. It’s been shown that negative reviews actually do more to turn a sale then positive ones.

Secondly, negative reviews (and positive) permit the business owners to reply and engage the issue.

Imagine a world in your brick and mortar shop where frustrated clients voice their displeasure in a public forum. Before you probably never heard from them again, now you have a chance to fix the issue internally, and also turn a disgruntled customer into an evangelist–all through interaction available online.

One of the biggest collections of business info (the new ‘YellowPages’) is Google Places. You never could reply to reviews left on your account. That’s changed. Google Places is slowly catching up to the Web 2.0 world where client and business can interact.

From now on if you’ve claimed your business then you can start replying to the reviews. So get cracking! Although I might leave the ones from 2006 alone so it doesn’t look like you took 4 years to reply to a concern!