Consumers are getting smarter. When faced with major purchasing decisions, they no longer take a brand’s word for it. In a recent Forbes article, Jayson DeMers warned that not offering user reviews (or ignoring them as a potential marketing opportunity) is akin to alienating 88 percent of your buying population and depriving them of information they want to help them make their buying decisions. According to Power Reviews, 95 percent of consumers read reviews before making a purchase, and 86 percent of consumers consider reviews an essential resource. So, how do companies achieve a valuable and efficient review generation system? Here’s a look at the most prevalent consumer review problems and how your company can overcome them.
It’s safe to say we all want reviews, but obtaining reviews the right way is still a challenge. The following problems can occur when companies turn to the wrong places and ask customers the wrong questions.
- Asking for reviews too soon or waiting too long following a purchase.
- Not diversifying your review-generation channels/methods.
- Asking vague or overly specific questions (Ex: How was your experience with our company? vs How was your experience with our customer service department?).
- Asking leading or biased questions. (Ex: What did you like about our great service? vs What did you like or dislike about our service?)
The solution? Create a strategic approach to your review generation tactics in order to obtain reviews that will benefit your company the most.
- The Right Place
Diversify the review sites you use since not all customers respond to the same invitation. For example, companies should partner with non pay-to-play sites like bestcompany.com or industry specific review sites like besthomesecuritycompanys.com. One of the most effective methods for generating reviews is by being active on social media. According to a 2013 study by J.D. Power, 67 percent of consumers go to social media to seek help from companies. Seeking out reviews on social media will help generate valuable, unbiased reviews.
- The Right Time
Consumers who leave reviews immediately after using your product or services may write harsh reviews if they had a negative experience. However, if consumers had a positive experience with the product or service, they are less likely to leave a review as time passes (as opposed to immediately after receiving the service/product). Companies can avoid attracting impulsive reviews by waiting until consumers have had time to regulate their response.
To put it simply, wait longer to ask those who had negative experiences and immediately request reviews from those who had positive experiences. However, the right time to request reviews will vary depending on your specific industry, your service, and your product. At this point, your review generation team will need to tackle one important question: How do we know if a customer is happy or unsatisfied with the product/service? For example, a window installation team will easily recognize that a customer is satisfied by the service and can then request a review without delay.
- The Right Questions
Your business can provide prompts for consumer reviews by asking specific questions. For example, if a brand is eager to know what consumers think of its customer service, then it should ask the consumer about that specific part of their interaction.
How legitimate are most customer reviews? We ran a sample segment of 24,022 reviews submitted to our website, and 9,368 reviews failed to pass our review-validation process. That’s 28 percent of the total reviews that weren’t published!
The acceptance of spam, computer-generated, and fake reviews can lead to consumer mistrust and even company lawsuits. 84 percent of people trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, which highlights how important it is to spot and filter out spam reviews. In order to receive accurate reviews, your business must implement thorough review-filtration processes.
- Filter Misleading Reviews
Be wary of reviews or review aggregators that publish reviews containing any obscenities, inadequate customer experience, spam, advertisements, or irrelevant reviews. Publishing these reviews indicates to consumers that your site does not have a strong enough review moderation process.
- Implement a Validation Process
Implement a review validation process (like Amazon’s “Verified Purchase”) on your website. This process should require customer validation before leaving reviews and match the identity of the individual leaving the review to the verifiable purchase of the product or service.
- Utilize Honest Review Sites
Make sure the review sites you are working with are trustworthy. Some review sites will strong-arm businesses into paying more for a better ranking. This type of ranking system leads to hiding valid negative reviews and creates fake positive reviews. Work with a review site that ranks businesses according to merit and authentic customer reviews.
Of the 24,022 reviews we analyzed, which uses a one-star to five-star rating system, 71 percent of the reviews were either one-star or five-star reviews. Clearly, the distribution of scores are predominantly on the polar ends of the rating spectrum. Most company reviews will likely be negative rather than positive because in a negative emotional state, writing a review becomes a therapeutic experience. Therefore, brands must plan how they should react to receiving poor reviews and how to they can use these reviews to their benefit. The key to successfully managing your company’s negative reviews is to use each review to your advantage.
- Make company improvements
Businesses should encourage their customers to leave positive reviews instead of focusing on getting rid of negative reviews. These reviews can spark change within your company, especially if your business is striving to improve its services.
- Engage with negative reviewers
Respond to negative reviews. Address the concerns that people have, help them resolve issues, and request that they submit another review about their experience with your company. When people see a business actively helping consumers sort out their problems, they begin to trust that company.
- Don’t be afraid of consumers seeing negative reviews
Overall, consumers will be more distrustful of a company if the company does not have any negative consumer reviews. A lack of negative reviews may make consumers think your company obtains reviews through unethical means or that your company falsifies reviews.
A contributing writer for Forbes Agency Council and Co-Founder of BestCompany.com, Jeff Grover leads a rapidly growing company with a mission of empowering the world to make better decisions by providing consumers clear, relevant and unbiased truth. Prior to starting BestCompany.com, he had helped One On One Marketing establish itself as the country’s premier marketing and lead generation firm in the education industry. Grover currently resides in Pleasant Grove, Utah with his wife Susannah and his 4 children. Follow them on Twitter @BestCompanyUSA, Instagram @BestCoFinance, and Facebook bestcompany.com.