AT&T launches user-generated ratings and reviews feature on its Facebook page

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With constant rumblings about an impending Verizon iPhone release, it's important for AT&T to secure, retain, and, most importantly, please customers. For the past 18 months, the telecommunications giant has dealt with negative headline after negative headline about dropped calls and iPhone glitches.

If marketers have learned anything over the years, it's that transparency is always the best remedy when dealing with negative publicity. If your product has a flaw, let everyone know that you're aware of it and that you're halfway into fixing it.

AT&T took a major step in the right direction on December 28 when it launched a Facebook fan page to sponsor user-generated ratings and reviews. The page, powered by Austin, TX-based Bazaarvoice, offers Facebook users a place to read, share, and submit testimonials about AT&T products.

On the page, which AT&T claims is the telecommunications industry's first Facebook fan page with ratings and reviews, visitors will have access to reviews of devices and accessories, which are rated on a five-star scale. Visitors can browse reviews of featured, top, or popular products. The page also features “buy it now” functionality, which links visitors directly to specific product pages on att.com.

"It's more important for customers to hear about products from other customers," said Liza Arango, lead online marketing manager at AT&T. "We've found that [because of our att.com] ratings and reviews, we get fewer returns. The Facebook fan page will help customers make the right decision about products they're interested in."

Since 2008, AT&T has allowed its customers to submit product ratings and reviews on its corporate site. The newly-launched Facebook ratings and reviews feature will allow the company to engage customers on their own terms, according to Gerardo Dada senior director of product marketing at Bazaarvoice.

“You want to engage customers where they are,” Dada said. “The challenge for companies is always determining how to engage customers in a way that is meaningful and consistent with how you engage them other places.”

The new Facebook feature is synched with the AT&T corporate site so that reviews posted on Facebook will appear on att.com and vice versa.

"We want to keep our content authentic," Arango said. "Some people want to read what customers are saying and not necessarily what we're saying about a given product."

It'll be interesting to see what's said by customers about AT&T's products. Will the company take a beating from Facebook users as well as the media at large? Or will giving customers a voice and engaging them directly on Facebook earn AT&T some sorely needed brand loyalty? 

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