And suggest to people that the reviews they post go beyond glowing praise to point out areas for improvement.
Encouraging criticism may seem like a strange way to attract new customers. Here’s why it makes sense:
- You want site visitors to trust the positive information in the reviews. When respondents to the 2010 Social Shopping Survey were asked what would lessen trust in online reviews, almost 40% replied that when there was no mention in the reviews of areas for improvement, trust faded.
- Reviews that include both strong positives and a few negatives will develop curiosity in prospective shoppers. The curiosity can lead to the shoppers wanting to check things out for themselves at your store or website. When positives far outweigh negatives, you’ve won a customer. Research at Rutgers University concluded that direct experience with the retailer affects how the negative information is interpreted. Almost 60% of the 2010 Social Shopping Survey respondents said they use customer reviews to compare with other information, such as their own experiences. If after visiting your store, a customer concludes that the criticism was not justified or complaints were exaggerated, there’s a good chance the customer will become an advocate for your store—working to convince others to give you business.
- Retailing thrives on change, so you’ll always be interested in how to make an excellent shopping experience even better. When you ask your customers to post reviews that specify areas for improvement and you then consider the suggestions, you’re building the strength of your business.