Cast your mind back about 10 years ago – ah those halcyon days, a time before COVID-19, a time before the word ‘Brexit’ had even been invented. A time when the mention of Donald Trump as the President of the USA would have been met by laughter. In the midst of all this paradise, something was changing throughout the Internet, especially in the e-commerce sector – the rise of customer reviews.
Today, customer reviews are a mainstay of the buying process, and have never been more powerful in either persuading or dissuading a customer from purchasing a product, or using a company’s services. Today’s modern shopper checks out the restaurant they are visiting on Tripadvisor, scans expert reviews on the new TV they’re eyeing up, and checks out Capterra before buying software. According to Fan & Fuel (2016), 94% of online customers read reviews before making any purchasing decisions.
So, the question you should ask yourself is not ‘Should I have customer reviews displayed on my site?’ but ‘How can I manage my customer reviews to get the most amount of sales?’
Why Are Reviews So Powerful?
In a word – ‘trust’. Speaking from personal experience, if it comes down to buying a product that has multiple good reviews vs one that has none, 99% of the time I’ll buy the reviewed product even if the price is higher. Why? Because I trust the opinion of my fellow consumers, more than the company that is selling it to me. In 2016, Fan & Fuel reported that 92% of consumers hesitated to make a purchase if there were no customer reviews; in fact products with reviews are 270% more likely to be bought than a product without.
Reviews can also make or break a companies reputation. For software providers, the leading place to be reviewed is either G2 or Capterra – these sites allow customers to give honest feedback about a company’s product and rate their experience. The major risk for companies who list their software on these sites is the potential to be reviewed badly, putting reputation and sales on the line.
The Risk With Reviews
Putting power in the hands of your customers may seem like a huge risk. You lose an element of control, and can’t determine what a customer is going to say about a product or your company – or can you?
On a basic level, when allowing customers to leave reviews, you should always retain editorial control – this means any spam reviews can be deleted, and allows you to actively respond to feedback. But it also demands that you focus on the customer experience – no one wants a bad review, meaning review-culture encourages you to deliver an exceptional customer experience every single time.
With that in mind, there are many things to consider – make sure your product descriptions are as accurate as possible and that you clearly state your delivery times and returns policy. Other things to focus on are your levels of customer service, response times to customer questions and what experience your customers will have when they visit your site.
Speaking from first-hand experience, and from data collected from consumers, it certainly appears that both product and company reviews help in reassuring customers when making purchasing decisions. For those of you who don’t currently have product reviews on your site, I’d suggest adding these, or at the very least A/B testing these against your current products to see if you notice an uplift in sales.