Online reviews are a powerful means of building customer confidence. A product or service may even fall under suspicion if there are few or no reviews. But “more” is not a synonym for “better.” Rethinking your approach to review collection may be life-changing for your business.
Curating online reviews is essential for business success. Companies are trying to get as many reviews as they can, so it’s no wonder that external review services are in high demand. Every company, regardless of its field, receives feedback from its customers. The reality is that today’s culture is predominantly driven by online reviews. Reviews mean the world in the restaurant and hotel industries, and this review frenzy has migrated into the fields of software and B2B in particular.
How can reviews be used as a marketing tool?
In our consumer-driven world, word-of-mouth marketing is rapidly losing weight and being replaced by online product reviews. A whopping 93% of consumers read reviews to decide if a business is good or not, and an almost equal number -- 88% -- make their buying decisions based on reviews. Online reviews have become an inevitable factor that determines how people spend their money.
There is a downside to this: Reviews are polarized. People post reviews if they are either greatly pleased or greatly displeased with something. There are very few temperate reviews. This influences product perception and prevents customers from getting unbiased data from others.
Companies are not particularly happy with this ambiguity, and they try to motivate clients to leave honest reviews -- even if they are neutral. To motivate customers to leave reviews, vendors can offer discounts on further purchases, coupons, Amazon gift cards and more. However, this incentivization means companies may lose truly unbiased customer reviews. Not to mention, there is now a precedent of businesses being fined for failing to disclose that they were offering review incentives.
Online platforms offer a solution. They can contact customers directly and ask them to write reviews. Many companies use services provided by three large Gartner platforms: Capterra, GetApp and Software Advice. These platforms focus on software review collection in particular. Product users are asked to share pluses and minuses. However, these reviews often don’t differentiate between products because all positive reviews say that the product is convenient, fast and reasonably priced and that the support team is friendly, the interface is attractive and configuration doesn’t take a lot of time. This sounds like an ad. After reading such reviews, consumers still don’t know which product to choose.
Of course, there are cases of review fraud. Some companies are notorious for creating fake reviews themselves or paying a third party to do so. Many platforms ask for authorization through social networks to avoid false reviews. However, many companies still receive tons of mediocre reviews that are useless for product buyers and business owners alike who cannot rely on the information given.How can you change your approach to review collection?
• Uncover how your product solves a problem: Ask your customers to write not just about what they like, but about how a specific functionality works to solve a particular problem. At my company, we ask our customers to write about the problem our product solves for them and what has changed since they started using it. This information helps us find the weaknesses and strengths of our product. For new users, it allows them to see how they can use the product in their own businesses.
• Identify the context of each review: Ask reviewers to briefly describe their business. This will attract attention from other customers in the same industry.
• Conduct a functionality overview: Ask reviewers to describe specific functionalities to avoid commonplace wording and comments. Customers respond better to these reviews. They are practical for the company as well because they provide a good overview of the features clients actually use and how they evaluate them.
• React to reviews: The flip side of asking your customers to post reviews is receiving negative comments. Don’t shy away from this feedback -- it is inevitable. Try to fix problems and address issues efficiently. Even if you can’t fix the problem, respond to negative reviews, explain the situation and offer your apologies. Answering a bashing review shows that you care about your customers and want to improve your product. Make sure you answer promptly. Set up a Google Alert with your business and product name so you don’t miss any company mentions.
There’s no question about it -- reviews provide practical insight into your business. While there are major issues surrounding online reviews today, you can improve the quality of your reviews to attract more customers by focusing on how they are written. Take action now.
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