When checking out a new restaurant I am considering, a new product I’m researching, or a new small business that I plan on giving my money to, I often look to my friends for a referral. This carries the most weight, and if a trusted friend has a recommendation, I almost always take it.
But for a lot of my commerce choices, I don’t have a friend that can offer advice. They simply haven’t eaten at the restaurant, bought the product I am researching or used the type of vendor I am looking for. Like many of you, I then turn to online reviews.
For me, the 5 star rating system is only mildly interesting. It’s my first level of filtering. If I see something with a 1 star overall rating, and a thousand reviews, I’ll move on quickly. If I see something with a 4 or 5 star rating, I’ll research more – but I don’t care about the positive reviews! I already know they will say glowing things, the high star rating told me that in a fraction of a second, so no need to waste my time reading them.
I go straight to the negative reviews to see what the “bad” things are about the item or business. I don’t view bad reviews as something bad for the business. For me, it is a source of valuable information, the source of the truth. Bad reviews help me understand the business or product weaknesses and to see if they matter to me. If I see reviews that are all glowing and positive, I assume they are fake, or family (mom) or friends-generated. No product or business is that perfect!
As a bonus, if I see responses to the reviews from the business owner, “thank you’s” on the positive posts, and explanations/resolutions to the negatives, my respect for the business rises greatly – they are listening to feedback! And they are interested in continuous improvement of their business. This is a huge plus in my opinion!
So here’s my advice to merchants looking to grow their business:
- Welcome feedback, especially online.
- Don’t be afraid of negative feedback. Customers like me love it.
- Most importantly, engage online with feedback, especially negative feedback.
Publicly engaging your customers is the most valuable thing you can do. It will get my attention.