A huge 92% of consumers now read online reviews, with 82% saying the content of a review specifically has convinced them to make a purchase - not the review count, the rating, or where they appear, but the words themselves.
Well first of all:
88% of people trust reviews as much as personal recommendations. This statistic is key to understanding the importance customers place on detailed online feedback.
Without trust, words are meaningless. Consumers are becoming increasingly savvy about the techniques used by marketeers in order to get sales. In fact, 84% of millennials don’t like advertising and don’t trust its messages.
So, Pip & Nut can say they have the creamiest, most delectable peanut butter in the world all they want, but their customers aren't likely to buy it.
This is where customer reviews come in - they provide information that other customers can really rely on - impartial, genuine and trustworthy information.
Unlike marketing messages, the reviews left by other customers are seen as having no agenda, and therefore taken at face value.
Now we know how much trust online reviews garner, it's easy to see why they're so popular amongst your customers as a trust signal.
But there are reviews and then there are reviews. Quality reviews provide extra information that a marketeer is unlikely to consider. The sad truth of it is that, often, the people marketing a product never actually get to see it themselves, let alone trial it.
And this is where good customer reviews come in. The people that have actually bought the product will know exactly what it looks like, how it feels, fits and even smells. The information included in reviews is therefore usually a lot more insightful, and accurate. It relates to potential customers on a more personal level as it's written by someone from the same target audience, who has similar requirements and pain points.
"Have been with them for 2 years. Really like their customer service teams. No waiting time over the phone, always helpful and you feel they take pride in doing their job properly. My only complaint would be about the admin fees they charge for a change of details. That's £15 I think when you move out, and £50 when you end the policy early. That's ridiculously expensive when it's just about a few clicks on the computer screen."
Buying insurance is not really something any one us really want to do. When purchasing a new top, or drink, the desire is strong. With insurance, the desire is limited. The decision therefore, is not based around, 'do I or do I not want this' but 'which provider is going to make me feel the least resentful'.
Customer reviews, such as the one pictured above, help reassure customers that the money they're parting with will, at least, serve them well.
Long call-centre waiting times are a bugbear for most of us, and often something companies don't disclose. Extra charges are another thing that can catch a lot of us out. Often lurking in the small print, they're easy to bypass.
This review brings both issues to the fore and says to other customers: they're ok but be careful.
"Great gate. Does the trick and easier to open for adults one handed that some of the more expensive ones. Great value for money."
Life as a parent is busy. There isn't time to delve through 20 different products, read their accompanying product descriptions, do price comparisons, or, equally, return products you're not happy with.
Short and succinct reviews like this one left for a baby gate is a great example of how one customer sharing their experience can save so much time for the next.
In just 24 words, the reviewer has summarised the product's performance: it does the job, is convenient, and a bargain. No fancy talk, no beating around the bush - simple.
"We bought an Abbey leather suite about 18 years ago and it was truly a classic, so, when needing replacements, we thought we would just get the same again. OH DEAR...what a complete waste of money! Our new ones are the most expensive leather - the colour literally rubs off like it's only been printed on?! It looks horrible - cushion backs all saggy & misshapen; arms of sofa completely sunk in where you lean on them. We've written it off in our heads and we're just 'using' it for as long as it looks reasonable, which, from the look of them, won't be very long."
Arguably as important as our home insurance are the sofas covered under it. As far as purchases go, sofas are a one-off purchase - they're an investment.
Even when customers go and try a sofa themselves, bounce around and compare one model to another, there's no telling how they're going to look or perform a couple of years down the line. In fact, it's unlikely that even the manufacturers themselves will know.
This is something other customers can help with. The review above is both an interesting and alarming one. For the product in question, we saw many similar comments about the deterioration of the quality. Reviews highlighting this could save others a considerable amount of money and disappointment, which could tarnish a brand in the long run.
"I was a bit apprehensive ordering this as I have seen a number of bad reviews from different suppliers. I'm pleased to say it works well and does not leak. However, the lid fitting is very tight and difficult to undo, needing a lot of pressure, so I'm glad I bought the 4-year insurance package."
Whilst electrical items are becoming increasingly affordable, in general, they are investments. They're also something that can often not be tried in store, meaning that customer feedback is more insightful than ever.
The food processor review above calms concerns about other reviews, relating to the reader on a personal level. Although this is positive, the review does come with a warning to get the insurance package - something that, otherwise, many customers may not have considered.
"Showers are always hot and facilities are very clean. Machines work great but expect a queue for some of the lifting machines. Classes are amazing and signing up online is a breeze. Very expensive, however, so not ideal for a low-budget weightloss."
Everyone's gym requirements differ slightly, but customer reviews as detailed as the one above offer something for everyone. When trying to sell themselves online, businesses are unlikely to mention pain points. Customers who frequent them, however, are more than willing to bring them to the fore.
Things such as cleanliness, queues and hot showers may not matter to one gym goer, but to another could be paramount. Customer reviews pick up these pain points - the make or breaks - and instead of customers having to risk a gym being unsuitable, they're able to make a better, more educated judgment before they sign up.
"I bought these shoes for work. They're very comfortable but you better not get them wet or you'll be dealing with a squishy, squeaking sound from the water getting in the sole! Same thing happened to the last pair I had! I won't buy them again."
We all buy trainers for different reasons. Some for running, some for lifestyle, others for work. A product description can't cater to everyone, so product reviews are there to fill in the gaps.
The review above highlights a problem with the trainers then won't be an issue for most. They're comfortable and ideal for work...unless you work with water. For those purchasing, it's a warning to stay out of puddles, for those working in notoriously wet environments where water can't be avoided, better look at a different model.
As more and more customers choose to do our shopping online, online reviews are going to become increasingly important. They're able to identify suitability, longevity and quality quickly and honestly to save customers time, money and disappointment.
Whilst sometimes a review may put a customer off a sale, it's likely that as a result, they'll find a product that's more suited to them, increasing happy customers and overall satisfaction in the long run.
To get reviews on your site, inform your customers and increase their satisfaction, trial an account with us today - it's FREE!