Breaking Down the Panel: Expert Insights on the Rise of the Review Culture  

People look at phones in store


The Rise of the Review Culture, a new study by Brightpearl and Trustpilot, explores the impact the burgeoning review culture is having on retailers and brands.

At an invite-only event last week, we released some jaw-dropping insights from our study that had everyone in the room buzzing.

We also hosted an expert panel of retailers, including Argos, Wineware and Love Shopping Direct – and joining them, a consumer behavioral specialist Zana Busby, from Retail Reflections. The quartet dug deep into the steps businesses must take to get a grip on their online reputation and succeed in the growing review economy. Read on for their key insights.

1. Deal with reviews quickly – but be personable

Zana Busby, Retail Reflections, says: “It’s human nature to want praise – and to ignore or dismiss poor feedback. I stress to any retailer that regardless if you receive positive or negative reviews – you must respond to both.”

Andy Lockley, Head of Ecommerce at Love Shopping Direct believes adding personality into a discussion with a customer can take the sting out of poor reviews. He says: “Our main way to deal with negative reviews is to make sure we deal with them quickly, but, where appropriate inject some personality. We find that if you are able to add humor and brand personality into your dialog with a peeved customer it can quickly heal the wound.”

Lynsey Wellman, Company Director, Wineware, adds: “Whenever you receive a negative comment you must be able to first understand the issue – and then make sure you react and correct the mistake quickly.”

Customer insights showing how quickly they want you to respond to reviews.

2. Use customer insight to identify pain points

Joanna Steele, Senior Reviews & Customer Generated Content Manager at Argos, advised our audience of the importance of utilizing customer feedback to fix issues and enhance the overall experience. She said: “We’ve engaged with Trustpilot and have started proactively reaching out to customers for feedback – whatever sentiment that might be. It has really helped us to analyze and identify common pain points – which we can then address.”

Argos has seen its Trustpilot rating jump from 1.2 (at its lowest) to 8.8, which shows the strategy is working. Joanna adds: “Our current score is a true reflection of where we are right now, but we’re still working to improve the overall customer journey – it’s not an overnight change.”

Andy Lockley says that Love Shopping Direct are very proactive at identifying if problems come up more than once. He says: “Issues that are repeated get flagged quickly as it’s a potential problem area for the business. We’ll take the customer insight and look at where we can make improvements – whether that’s new processes, systems or technologies to ensure we never receive similar feedback again.”

Zana adds: “Positive reviews are great, but what have you really learned? Remember, we gain much more from failure than we do success. A negative review offers you the scope to improve your business and make other customers happier in the long run.”

3. Don’t bribe customers for positive endorsements

Our expert panel was in full agreement that fishing for compliments from your customers could backfire…

Zana says: “Never fish for positive feedback! Focus on making your brand human centric, on delivering a great product with a seamless end-to-end experience and on making it easy for customers to leave reviews.”

Andy, Love Shopping Direct, agrees: “We don’t compensate for positive reviews – it’s an approach that could easily backfire and end up being posted on Trustpilot. Once your audience realizes that your star rating and reviews are paid for rather than earned, it can completely undo all your good work and the trust that customers have built with your brand.”

Joanna adds: “At Argos, our focus is on rectifying any issues – for the customer concerned and our future buyers. We don’t expect anyone to broadcast that we’ve solved their problem – we just want to make sure no one has that experience again.”

4. Remind people to leave reviews – but consider your approach

There was a lot of debate from the panel about sending reminder emails to customers – and whether it was even appropriate to ask customers to leave reviews and ratings. Our retailers were in broad agreement that reminder emails were useful – but had different views on the frequency of email sends.

Wineware’s Lynsey Wellman said: “We send an email to our customers a week after they’ve bought an item to encourage them to leave a review. We try not to be too imposing.”

Joanna from Argos takes a more engaged approach: “We send every customer an email two weeks after they’ve bought a product to ask them to leave a review – apart from fashion, where we send out a reminder after three days. We’ll send a repeat email if there’s no response, and then again after six months – when it’s reasonable to assume our customer will have formed an opinion on their purchase.”

Zana from Retail Reflections has a different view altogether: “I don’t think retailers should ever chase or put pressure on customers to leave reviews – any feedback left should be as organic and genuine as possible; that’s what builds trust with shoppers.”

5. Your one star reviews are vital for generating five star feedback

Our panel agreed that it’s only by learning – and fixing – mistakes that you can develop the end-to-end experiences that result in five star reviews and ratings.

Joanna from Argos says: “Reviews have been massive for us. When you are a large multichannel operation, you have to understand where your customer pain points are. Customer reviews and the insight taken from our feedback has proven to be so enlightening; and it’s helped us to improve our overall customer journey as a result.”

Andy, Love Shopping Direct adds: “Our negative reviews have allowed us to identify issues and develop our overall customer journey. We recognized common themes in our feedback and it quickly became clear that consumers’ expectations now stretch beyond the website, to factors such as fulfillment, delivery, returns and post-purchase customer service.”

“We’ve found success by optimizing the post-purchase experience with new delivery options, including late cut-off for 24hr delivery, which has powered our five star ratings and reviews while helping drive customer loyalty.”

Zana concluded the panel with her take on driving positive reviews: “This is how to get five star feedback; firstly do not be scared of your negative reviews – this is invaluable feedback on how to improve your service in future. Secondly, it goes without saying that you must offer outstanding end-to-end customer journeys – but the last impression counts the most. Excel in this area and you’re more likely to collect glowing ratings and reviews – while failure at the last hurdle is going to leave the customer with feelings of hurt, disappointment and sadness, which is likely to be reflected in the feedback they leave.”

Wrap up

What’s clear is that our panel of experts agree that the influence of online product reviews and ratings continues to play an increasingly important and normalized role in our purchasing behavior.

As our study suggests, 84% of consumers now use reviews pre-purchase, and positive or negative feedback will influence consumer trust, which has a direct impact on conversion, spend and loyalty.

The growing review culture is becoming an increasingly important consideration for the retail community. If online reviews and ratings are a factor for your business, then download our report: Rise of the Review Culture now.