We now exist in a world where technological innovation is empowering customers to expect more from the retailers and brands they shop with, to switch when they’re not happy or satisfied, and to share their negative experiences in the form of bad online reviews.
With the rise of so many avenues for online feedback, consumers have started exercising their right to criticize when they receive sub-par service - and you must start paying closer attention.
Most customers today will do at least one search for your company online before deciding to make a purchase. So if a bad review or overall rating can be found on an online review site, social media platform, or on your own website, then shoppers are going to think twice before buying from you.
The influence of online product reviews and ratings on consumers continues to grow and plays an increasingly important and normalized role in consumers’ purchasing behavior. And it’s what happens after the buy button that has the most potential to create the kind of consumer disappointment that often translates into negative feedback and ratings.
But with a solid review strategy combined with retail operations technology powering your business to provide superior shopping experiences, you’ll not only deliver on your customers’ demands and expectations, but exceed them.
Ultimately, the ability to delight your customers at every interaction is well within reach - and with it, the positive endorsements needed to capture consumer attention and position your brand as one that customers can trust.
With this in mind, this article will explore:
The power of reviews on your business and its customers
Strategies to help you get more reviews
How your online customer experience can cause consumer dissatisfaction
How to use technology effectively to improve CX
The Power of Customer Reviews
The power of customer reviews is increasing. Recent research from Brightpearl and Trustpilot shows that star ratings and reviews are important to shoppers as it gives them a voice and a compass to aid decision making.
Here are a few takeaways from the report:
46% of shoppers often or always check star ratings before making an online purchase
84% of shoppers read online reviews before buying
88% of shoppers believe star ratings are important to their buying decision
In addition, Product Review Monitoring claims that “online reviews are the second most trusted source of information behind friends and family,” while 35% of shoppers told Podium that what motivates them most to leave a review is “to inform others about the customer experience”.
While once upon a time having a slick website was key to a great ecommerce experience and positive reviews, most shoppers’ expectations now stretch far beyond this. They expect superior experiences at every touchpoint - from same-next day delivery options to real-time shipping, hassle-free returns and fast response times.
If one of these areas fails, then they all do, potentially leading to frustrated shoppers and negative feedback. With this comes increased cost for your business as you strive to get a grip on poor feedback. The average merchant now spends $10k a year managing negative reviews.
This tangled web of negativity spirals out of control before - wham! - lost sales and a serious blow to your revenue forecast.
In fact, our recent study reveals that the difference in revenue between a 3-star and a 5-star rating can be as high as 33%. If you have $1 million in annual revenue, for example, you may be losing as much as $330,000 because of a negative reputation.
On the flip side, brands with a stellar five star review strategy are yards ahead of the competition - leading to increased conversion, retention and spend.
As an example, DIY specialist retailer, Mad4Tools.com has successfully built a passionate and vocal community around their products by investing in excellent experiences. As Paul Swain, Director of Mad4Tools.com, explains here, the business prides itself on an excellent end-to-end journey. “If a customer has a positive experience with our brand, they’re more likely to buy from us again, to tell their friends and leave positive feedback on consumer review sites, which gives other shoppers more confidence to buy.”
While Seriously Silly Socks has been able to drive a 60% higher average order value on its website compared with its other channels, thanks in large part to its 3000 five star reviews that populate the ecommerce site’s various product pages.
In an online world and in the absence of live face-to-face interactions, it’s the customer reviews and ratings that have the power to show potential customers whether your business is trustworthy or not - either giving them the confidence to buy, or causing them to sprint in the opposite direction and towards your competition.
Positive reviews also have the power to convert more than any other copy you have on your website - whether that’s due to an increased feeling of trust between you and your customer, or whether it’s because reviews show how other shoppers like them have benefited from using your products.
Displaying reviews has the power to increase your conversion rates by as much as 270%! [Source: Spiegel Research Center, 2017]
“We recognize that the decision to buy from Mad4Tools.com will be influenced, to a large degree, by our ratings and reviews.” - Paul Swain, Director, Mad4Tools.com
Brands that recognize that modern consumer expectations stretch far beyond the website experience, to crucial factors such as fulfillment, delivery, returns and post-purchase customer service, are able to delight customers at every twist and turn and generate the glowing endorsements some businesses only dream of.
At Brightpearl, we believe it’s never too late to get a tarnished online profile back under control - especially once you have the optimal technology stack and know-how at your fingertips, which is where this article should help.
How To Get Customers To Leave Reviews
While negative reviews provide you with ample opportunity to show the speed, quality and genuine care of your customer service within your response, our research shows that just 6% of shoppers look at reviews that are over six months old.
This underlines the importance of focusing on building up a series of good customer reviews once a negative one has been posted. But how can you get more customer reviews - particularly positive ones? Here are five key ingredients.
1. Provide a superior shopping experience
First and foremost, your customers have been conditioned by big box retailers like Amazon to expect the very best from you - or you’re at risk of them leaving a less-than-glowing review.
To help combat this, you should invest in optimizing the complete end-to-end buying experience, not just how your website looks and operates.
At Brightpearl, we’ve put a lot of our own time and energy into building centralized retail operations software that has been designed with this very goal in mind.
From streamlined order processing and automatic warehouse routing, to real-time inventory management, integrated CRM and more, these are just some of the ways in which technology can help you to provide your customers with a superior shopping experience.
NB: We’ll dive into this topic in greater detail in the final section of this article.
2. Use a variety of review sites and plugins
There are a growing number of review sites - and you need to make sure you’ve claimed your company presence on each one that your shoppers are likely to use.
Top sites that your customers write reviews on include:
Furthermore, popular ecommerce plugins like Yotpo and Feefo enable you to easily collect feedback and display reviews across your website as well.
3. Ask for feedback at the right time
Loopy Loyalty claims a whopping 70% of customers are happy to leave a review when asked. But you also need to ensure you’re asking your customers at the right time.
There have been numerous studies over the years related to when is the right time to send a follow-up email to customers post-purchase. Although the answer is heavily dependent on your own business and trial and error, this article from The Good Group is helpful as a starting point.
It recommends sending a ‘shipment check in’ email about a week after the item should have been received, while the ‘review request’ should be sent once enough time has elapsed for your customer to have tried the product for a few weeks.
Based on data from over 3.5 million emails, this article from Yotpo is useful for outlining what this email should look like and what wording works best.
And if you’re using a centralized retail operations platform, then your data will also provide information on when to send follow up emails. This process can even be automated based on the shipping and delivery status associated with each order, as well as the return status, ensuring you send review requests at the appropriate time, every time.
4. Incentivize your customers
Your customers’ time is valuable so you may need to provide them with an incentive to encourage them to leave a review.
Offers like discount codes for their next purchase, entries into exciting prize draws and gift cards are all great incentives.
Just remember that these incentives relate to ALL reviews - not just positive ones. This can be something of a gray area, but this quick guide from Trustpilot is great for listing the do’s and don’ts when it comes to incentivized reviews.
5. Respond to every review
Your customers are going to be much more likely to leave a review - good or bad - if they feel like they’re being heard and respected for leaving their feedback.
This is your golden opportunity to show just how much you care about your customers and their opinions – and it needs to come fairly rapidly. Our research found that almost one in five shoppers (17%) think that brands should respond to a negative review within 24 hours and a further 21% believe it should be quicker than that.
Learning to manage your negative reviews will not only allow you to collect more consumer insights in order to identify areas of development, but will also prove that you are a customer-centric business. Indeed, 95% of unhappy customers will return if a business has resolved their issue quickly and efficiently.
The Customer Experience Gaps Causing Consumer Dissatisfaction
To succeed in the growing review culture, you can’t just efficiently fulfill orders or deliver generic customer service; you need to expertly fulfill the modern expectations of customers, delighting them with a superior experience at every touchpoint.
Yet our research shows that it’s what happens after the buy button is clicked, which has the potential to cause the most consumer dissatisfaction - in turn, creating more negative reviews for your business.
We looked at 29,080 1-3 star reviews left by consumers rating the service of ecommerce businesses. A whopping 77% of these less-than-stellar reviews were a result of typical operational failures, such as poor customer service, or negative experiences related to delivery, returns and refund policies.
It’s vital to determine the specific stages where customers are evaluating and talking about their experiences - and whether there are gaps or issues that need to be addressed.
We’ve identified that the customer experience often follows what we call: the slippery slope of customer happiness. It’s the last impression that determines whether a shopper comes back to your store, but as the graph below shows, the percentage of customers that rate their last online shopping experience as ‘very good’ declines as the lifecycle of the customer buying journey progresses.