4 Lessons We've Learned About Online Customer Reviews

By Stephanie Thum,CCXP posted 05-10-2021 08:29 AM


Online customer reviews have always been a fantastic source of customer feedback and competitive intelligence. Now, there are more customer reviews to synthesize than ever before.

In 2020, at the onset of COVID, as shoppers moved into isolation and started buying online for almost everything, the number of written product reviews on Amazon.com doubled within a matter of days. Retail giants like Walmart and Target also saw a surge in customer reviews.

The CX power and potential of online reviews

What we've learned in the last 15 months is that online reviews can be a source of competitive intelligence, product development ideas, and customer feedback. And we are also learning from empirical research that these customer-written public gems are about far more than just words on a screen. Here are four recent takeaways from our colleagues in the scholarly world.

1. Shameless self-promotion ruins your chances for repeat purchases.

Negative feedback is common with online customer reviews. Here is how you shouldn't respond:

“We're so sorry you had a bad experience! Here’s a coupon for 25% off your next purchase at our sale next week!”

This study showed that self-promotion as a response to negative feedback has a detrimental impact on the relationship with the customer. That's because it seems like you're more interested in promoting yourself than you are in really listening to the customer's feedback. The customer's repurchase intentions decrease when you do that. 

So, listen to what the customer has to say, address the feedback, and save the self-promotion for another time.

2. Honesty sells. Even when it isn’t perfect and pretty.

Honesty has a positive influence on customers’ intentions to purchase based on online reviews.

For example, sometimes customers make mistakes when they order something online. Sometimes they will write in their review that they made a mistake in ordering. A marketer’s initial reaction may be to delete that review because the customer's experience wasn't perfect. What you should consider doing:

Let the "imperfect" online review stand, as is.

This study found that shoppers were likely to perceive a reviewer as being credible, even if they admitted they made a mistake in ordering. Shoppers were then more willing to buy in the face of an honest, credible review. Trust matters.

3. Mobile reviews may have special selling power.

Have you, as a customer, ever tried to write a review from a mobile phone? If so, then you know how much effort it takes (unless you're using voice to text!), compared to if you were writing that same review on a computer keyboard.

A study of customer reviews on a travel website found that customers were more likely to be influenced to buy based on a review when that review was written from a mobile device.

Why? Because it's usually harder to write a review from a mobile device. Customers perceive mobile reviews to be more credible because they know how much effort it took for someone to write the review.

4. Trust is always on the customer’s mind.

Customers are smart. And skeptical. They are looking for honest reviews written by well-informed customers.

Across the board, studies show shoppers look for credibility in online reviews. When they believe reviews have been manipulated, they become uncertain about buying.

From a marketing and sales perspective, honesty and transparency is the best policy for building trust with customers and for your brand. The bottom line: Honesty sells.

So, here’s to getting 5 stars, legitimately with every review! What a great reward for all the work you've put into creating those great experiences. 

Image courtesy of Pixabay.