U.S. consumers read reviews to improve shopping experience

Joanna Clark Simpson

Everyone has an opinion, and the ease with which they can share that opinion with a vast audience is growing. Online review websites offer a platform upon which anyone and everyone can freely voice their customer experience to the world at large.

These sites collate service and product reviews from across a broad spectrum of industries, whilst others gather customer reviews of a specific industry, restaurant reviews sites, being a good example.

Photo by(EnvatoElements)

Here’s what to consider when sharing your experience in an online review.

Consumers depend on reviews when making a purchase.

According to Invespcro research, 90% of people check online reviews before choosing which business’s services they’ll use. The ability to share product and service experiences through online reviews has enabled the consumer to influence the fortunes of businesses, as well as warn others.

Potential buyers are increasingly dependent on online reviews when making their shopping decisions. In their reviews, consumers often encourage others to learn from their mistakes. For example, in a post on the review website PissedConsumer.com, one AZ Travel Center customer from Georgetown, Texas alerts being ripped off and warns others to read reviews.

AZ Travel Center consumer reviewPhoto by(PissedConsumer.com)

Reviews have a significant impact on consumers and businesses.

Detailed, honest testimonials can inform other consumers, helping them to ensure they purchase a product that most closely meets their needs, whereas businesses can benefit from in-depth customer feedback.

This feedback could cover the product itself, the service provided and even the overall experience the customer had when interacting with the business.

The more people visibly favor a company or product, the greater the chance of mimicking behavior as people instinctively believe that numbers don’t lie and that the hard work of trying and testing a product has already been done for them.

There are those who will make a choice based on something as simple as an overall star rating, and at the other end, those who value detailed reports on experiences with a product.

Of course, the converse is also true. Even more so, negative reviews can quickly impact a company’s fortunes, bringing about the necessity for a business to address and remedy the highlighted qualms quickly, and publicly.

Your review makes a contribution to something greater

By writing a review you are first and foremost helping someone out. You have taken the trouble of getting actual experience with a product and documenting it to save others the trouble and help them make the best purchasing decision.

This isn’t pure altruism on your part, however. Contributing to a growing ecosystem of reviews and fostering its growth will inevitably assist you when making a purchase at some point in the future. Think of it this way, the more people get good advice from accurate reviews, the more consumers will return the favor in kind and help others the way they were helped towards a satisfying purchasing experience.

Simple rules to writing a review

Here are the most important points to cover in your online review, and how you should present them.

1. Authenticity matters

Orientate your review around your personal experience. Use your own words, and adopt a conversational tone. Imagine you are writing a diary entry or sharing an anecdote. A real-world slice-of-life story really helps readers to identify with your experience and imagine themselves to be in your shoes.

  • If the option to do so is available, enable comments post review. Encourage engagement and discussion and do your best to respond to people who have left their thoughts about your review.
  • Structure your review in such a way that it reads like a start-to-finish, first-hand experience of using the product being assessed.
  • Talk about why you needed such a product and why you chose this particular brand. Describe your first impressions of it, assessing factors such as product quality, clarity of instructions, etc.
  • Take the reader through your typical experience of using the product for the specific purpose you bought it for. Talk about what it did well, and in what areas did it struggle.

This review about the poor quality of fast food and rude customer service would serve a good example of how to write a good review.

PissedConsumer review about bad food qualityPhoto by(PissedConsumer.com)

2. Writing a review is not simply an opportunity to rant

An influential review will come across as objective and not emotionally driven. Sure, many negative reviews are fuelled by anger and will put people off a product, but this is not always the case. Emotional reviews can also be seen as irrational, and therefore not as credible as neutral, descriptive portrayals of a personal experience that provide constructive criticism.

A post like this one left on Twitter for BurgerKing showcases the customer frustration without the details needed to resolve the issue.

Twitter post with a Burger King complaintPhoto by(@lazylion46)

Always consider the tone of your review. Don’t relentlessly heap praise on something to the point of it becoming ridiculous, nor allow your criticism to be so extreme. Focus on details to help you solve the issue.

3. Quality control

Aim to keep your words simple, clear, and easy for the reader to follow. Your audience may be here to learn, but they don’t expect it to be unnecessarily challenging. Write in a conversational style, as if you were speaking to a friend, but put more emphasis on flow and structure. Read what you’ve written out loud to get a better sense of how it comes across.

4. Weigh up the positives and negatives

If possible, summarize the plus points of a product against the negatives. Here you can comment on what the product does well, whilst also highlighting areas that don’t quite live up to expectations and could benefit from improvement. You can also add any ideas or suggestions for what can be done to make the product better.

5. Make sure you get the facts right

If your review gives a run-down of the claimed figures for the product (for example, if it’s an electronic product, the battery life, capacity, etc.), check and double-check to make sure you get these figures right. You can bet your house on someone bringing this error up in the comments on your review, and you don’t want any productive discussion to be derailed by such a reckless oversight.

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Joanna is the Head of Marketing at PissedConsumer.com, a review platform and consumer advocacy website. She analyzes customer experience and shares knowledge by providing tips to help consumers avoid issues and brands succeed with customers.

New York, NY

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