Customer Online Reviews Are still Important to Your Business. Here’s Why.
An interesting article I read on Marketing Sherpa involved a Northwest University study that showed how customer online reviews affect sales.
Although the article actually put a stamp on most everything I’ve already learned about consumer behavior when it comes to reviews, I still found the article particularly interesting.
Let me share some of the information with you.
Would You Trust a Business with All 5-Star Ratings?
In my opinion, having all 5-star reviews does not necessarily mean that the owner is somehow suppressing bad reviews. If the only customers that habitually leave reviews always leave 5 stars, that is not really under the business owner’s control (besides, what business owner would ask their customers to leave a less than a 5-star review so it looks believable?). But some people still find it hard to believe.
How about you? As a consumer, would you rate a business 5 stars for great service? Well, in my experience, it depends on who you ask. Some people I know absolutely refuse to leave a 5-star review no matter their customer experience because they feel no business ever does 100% great service.
On the other hand, some people like to show that they are completely satisfied because some business owner knocked their socks off with superb service, so they choose to leave that 5-star review.
Do the Stars Really Matter?
According to this study, the stars don’t really matter to a lot of consumers.
Why? Because though they do read other customer online reviews, in many cases, it’s what is written in the review that counts. In the article, Tom Collinger, the Executive Director of the Spiegel Research Center at Northwestern University, gave this example: If the person who leaves a two-star review wrote “the food was too spicy” as their reason for the low review, this is not really considered a bad review to someone who loves spicy food. As opposed to the reviewer who wrote that the service was terrible, in which case it would definitely be a reason not to visit that restaurant.
Where the review is coming from is important as well. Getting an email review is better than someone hopping onto a website and leaving a review. This is because in most cases, the email review was written by an actual buyer who received a “thank you” email and somewhere along the line was asked in the email to leave a review of their experience or satisfaction with the product they purchased. The website review could have been from a non-buyer or anyone, which gives it less credibility.
I once had a complete stranger leave me a two-star review. He did not write anything or any reason, he just clicked two stars and submit. I guess he just decided to give me a two-star review.
When Consumers Don’t Bother Reading Reviews
One other thought that I believe to be valuable. Their research showed that there are some cases where other customer online reviews will not influence a buyer. This scenario is something I had not thought of but makes total sense.
Reviews won’t influence a habitual user of the product. Toothpaste, as in their example, is a product where some people choose to use one and only one brand. They need no further influence because they have made their choice and will continue to get the same brand of toothpaste no matter what.
It’s not until there is a certain amount of risk involved, that a consumer really starts to read reviews. Products like automobile purchases, athletic shoes, clothing, and electronics, for instance. Especially when purchasing online involves more risk to the consumer so they do a lot more research which involves reading reviews from past users.
What was not surprising to me was the number of reviews they determined that a business would need before a consumer would trust them. 10 is what we’ve always determined to be the average and that seems to still be the case.
Get Control of Your Social Assets
Many business owners would rather avoid dealing with reviews altogether thinking that if they don’t put their business out there for people to review, no one will review them, thereby avoiding getting bad reviews.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. Consumers can post a review anywhere and if you do not have an existing account, the social platform they use simply creates one for the business owner.
The bad part is, you have no control and cannot even post a reply to negative or positive customer online reviews because you have no account setup with that review platform or directory. The better way is to create local citations on local review sites and directories and invite your customers to share their experience. You just need to make sure their experience is a positive one.
If you are worried that you will get many bad customer online reviews, it’s time to take a look at your processes, your policies, and your company practices as a whole because there is obviously an issue that you are ignoring.
My Tips and Suggestions
All in all, there is no real mystery surrounding getting customer reviews. Remember these few tips.
Ask your previous customers for a review. Craft a “Thank You” email that you can use to automatically send to all of your customers upon purchase. If you are using an e-commerce system such as Amazon, alter that email if you are allowed, or better yet, set up your own branded email with a more meaningful message of your appreciation along with a request to review their experience.
Your request for review should be sent depending on when the customer will most likely use it.
For instance, if it was a meal at a restaurant, you can be safe adding the review to the first “Thank you” email. If the purchase involved something like an electronic device, power tools, or something similar, you might want to follow up a few days later with a request for customer online review. Just ask the customer about their experience with their purchase and if they have any questions about the product or setup or you can even send best practice tips. Then simply add the last line asking for a review.
In your review request, set up 3 social platforms for your customers to leave a review. Why? Everyone does not have a Google account, or a Facebook or Yelp account. But there is a good chance that they have at least one of those. You can substitute any customer online review site or directory where you think you need more reviews.
Well, that’s my thoughts and suggestions about making the best of customer reviews. Just remember, don’t take customer online reviews too lightly, but don’t stress yourself over them either. Just make it a practice for you and your team to give the best service you can provide to your customers and your business will do well.
Annette was raised in a military family and also served in the military. This has given her global experience in communication and collaboration with people from all walks of life.Her background as a business owner stretches over 20 years and includes an extensive background in the food industry, Web Development and Design and Digital Marketing.
Annette holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Information Technology and certificates in Inbound marketing, Content marketing, and Digital Marketing Consultation.
As a Digital marketing evangelist, Annette helps business owners understand the power and the advantages that digital marketing can bring to their business.
As an educator, Annette teaches quarterly Online Marketing classes to local business owners through StartZone, a nonprofit wing of Highline College that provides help to business owners in the South King County area.
At IYBS Local, Annette has created a consultative system of service that helps educate her clients and empowers them to make informed decisions on their marketing needs.