Comfort is what most internet users strive for in almost every regard. If giving a review or rating is or appears to be too complicated, it will scare off all users besides the most committed ones, which are the ones typically ready to give a negative review. The willingness of satisfied customers to leave reviews can be increased by including direct links to the review section as in many places as possible (in a non-obtrusive manner), for instance newsletters and web shop pages.
The best thing is to virtually guide users who wish to share their experience: we can increase their desire to share a review using various examples and questions, making them public in readable form at the end of the process. Rewarding users can be a motivating factor, as often even the most satisfied customers need a little push to give a review. In such cases, any pressure to obtain a positive/negative review must be strictly avoided. If positive ratings are highlighted, users will quickly come to the conclusion that the reviews are paid content in disguise, which demotivates users and destroys the function’s credibility.
The number of ratings can also be boosted by offering a free demo of the service. “Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth”, goes the idiom, and most people unconsciously adhere to this piece of wisdom. For free opportunities, positive reviews tend to predominate, and even the more negative ones tend to be watered down by the reviewers themselves.
People’s tendency to strive to be better should not be underestimated either. If people feel that sharing their experience can contribute to a developing or improving a service or product, they will be more willing to rate the current iteration. This makes them feel useful and that they are making their voice heard.
Thanking reviewers reinforces this feeling. For top reviewers, gratitude can be expressed with a video message (of not more than 30 seconds). By emphasizing the customer’s name, video content posted to a video sharing service, coupled with a personalized email, can often prompt a very positive review from the user, rewarding the effort made by the company.
Some internet users are avid fans of data visualization, the graphic representation of information collected from users. One of the most popular forms of this is using infographics with the right mix of easy to understand figures and text. By leveraging this tool, we can emphasize the importance of giving ratings.
Finally, incorporating the importance of giving recognition to reviews into corporate culture can also be an important element. Employees in charge of sales and customer relationship functions must be aware of the importance of customer reviews. Companies who manage to involve these employees in the review process have been shown to see an increase in ratings.
Why shouldn’t we be afraid of negative criticism?
It might seem surprising, but negative reviews can be useful to a certain degree, as long as they remain constructive. PR experts know well that adequately addressed negative criticism can improve a service not just based on the consequences drawn from the reviews. If a company takes the time to openly address user issues in a constructive manner rather than hiding them and shows willingness to actually help, it conveys an important message to the other participants of company-to-customer communication (even passive ones). Needless to say, this requires the right communication background, and being equipped with the adequate tools.
Experience confirms the above. Among the majority of companies which allowed reviews (both positive and negative) to be publicly shared, a clear link could be established between the posting of opinions and an increase in sales. For example, the USAA (United Services Automobile Association) found that their ads were more credible when they incorporated customer feedback. The association’s experience showed that this practice boosted their sales by over 30 percent, so the company now displays customer opinions in both its online and off-line marketing.