The Truth About Online Reviews

Online reviews are everywhere. Your Instagram and Facebook feed are full of influencers sharing their opinions on the latest products. When you buy from Amazon and other retailers, you likely scroll down to see what other customers have said.

As a consumer, how much faith should you put in online reviews? And as a business owner, how can you use reviews to connect with customers? Keep the following helpful tips in mind the next time you encounter reviews online.

In a way, reviews act as a resume or CV for your business. They may be the first impression that a person has of a product, service, or company. Do you need to create a new CV for yourself? Check out this online CV layout.

Using Reviews as a Consumer

You can find reviews all over the web – on social media, on retail websites, and on review websites. Do they affect your purchasing decisions? Probably.

The following dialogue from Litterbox Comics well illustrates this:

Mother: “I’m trying to buy a car seat – but just when I think I’ve found the perfect one, I read a bad review!”

Father: “What about this one? All rave reviews!”

Mother: “No. It’s suspicious if there’s no bad reviews.”

How can you make sure you are getting accurate information when reading online reviews?

Understand the Statistics

The biggest takeaway from my university statistics class was this: reviewers exhibit a U-shaped curve. What does this mean?

If you drew a graph of review ratings, you would have a lot of glowing reviews and a lot of bad reviews, with very few mid-range reviews. Why? Because people, it seems, are more likely to take the time and effort to write a review if they feel they had an exceptionally good or bad experience with a product or organisation.

Most users, however, have an “average” experience and never bother to leave a review.

Some Reviews Are Sponsored

Many companies give away free samples of their products or offer discounts to reviewers. Often, these reviews require a #sponsored or some other admission that a free product or reimbursement was received.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The fact that the reviewer is honest about the sponsorship likely indicates that they will be honest about their experience with the product. Some, however, may leave only good reviews in hopes of receiving more products as sponsored reviewer in the future.

Some Reviews Are Fake

When anyone can leave a product review without proof of purchase, reviews can easily be padded. The company may hire or incentivise leaving reviews – even if the user hasn’t actually tried the product! Look out for non-specific reviews that are suspiciously positive.

Using Reviews as a Business Owner

If you are a business owner, you should come to grips with the fact that you will receive both positive and negative reviews. But don’t worry – you can use both to bolster your business! Here’s how.

Ask for Reviews

When was the last time you left a review? Were you prompted to do so by an email or push notification?

Likely you were. As stated above, only exceptionally positive or negative experiences may prompt a user to seek out a means of leaving a review.

In order to get more reviews, ask! Send your customers an email after a purchase or post a review request on social media. Canva offers free, premade review requests that you can use on social media.

Go Above and Beyond

If you want to inspire good reviews, put extra effort into the products and services you provide. Sparkling reviews often mention the following:

  • An unexpected free gift with purchase
  • Secure and aesthetically pleasing product packaging
  • Fast shipping
  • Easy to contact customer service and rapid resolution of problems
  • Products that are “heavier,” more substantial, more beautiful, or more detailed than expected

Respond to your reviews – thank them, tell them you are happy that they enjoyed the product or service. When a customer knows that the organisation saw and appreciated their review, it builds trust and brand loyalty.

See Bad Reviews as an Opportunity

Inevitably you will receive some bad reviews. Don’t worry! You can actually leverage bad reviews to your advantage. How so?

  • Don’t get mad or argue with the customer. Instead, apologize for the inconvenience and offer to help. Often, platforms allow you to respond to a negative review in a way that can be seen by other users. Ask them to contact you directly. This will inspire confidence that if they encounter a problem, it too will be resolved.
  • Respond quickly. The sooner, the better.
  • Fix the problem. If you’re able to make the customer happy, they may very well go back and leave a good review.
  • Analyze whether changes are needed. If an issue comes up in reviews more than once, analyze whether the product, packaging, customer service, etc. requires revision.

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