Why you shouldn’t be scared of customer reviews 

Customer reviews are something to be embraced, not to shy away from
Jacqueline Dewey

As humans, most of us are hardwired to take criticism personally. We tend to see feedback as a negative thing - especially so when it’s about something we care about or have poured time and energy into. It’s just as true of our professional lives as our personal lives, so it’s easy to understand why companies are nervous about encouraging customer reviews. 

On top of this, we’ve all heard the numerous stats about how many positive reviews it takes to outweigh a negative one. These vary from about seven to 40, but it’s enough to make even the least risk-averse person think twice. 

The problem is, if customers are going to complain, they'll find some way and somewhere (usually social media!) to do it. 

By taking control of your reviews and proactively asking customers to give their feedback, you have an opportunity to respond and manage the conversation. You’ll show a balanced customer opinion and most consumers are savvy enough to understand that you can’t please everyone all the time.

Reviews have become an expectation

Reviews are a great research tool for prospective customers, but more than this, people now simply expect to see them - good or bad. In fact, a complete absence of reviews may be more of a red flag than the occasional grumble. 

Sixty eight percent of consumers have made a purchase after reading a positive review, so if you haven’t got any, but your competitors have, that’s a lot of potential sales you could be unknowingly passing their way. 

You can’t prevent people voicing their opinions

Companies can sometimes be a little hesitant to welcome feedback as you can’t predict what people will say, and sometimes it won’t be completely true or fair. However, remember that many review sites allow people to leave reviews without a direct invite, so it’s impossible to entirely prevent negative reviews online anyway, plus many will take to social media to air their views when left with no other outlet. And suppose there are unfair or unjust reviews left that are false or not representative of your company anymore. In that case, you have the right to be forgotten, meaning you can remove negative results in search queries to rectify this.

In trying to prevent reviews entirely, you’d also be shutting out all the lovely things people have to say about you too, and while a bad comment can sting, there’s nothing like the feeling of a great review. Positive reviews are a real morale booster, validation of the good work you’re doing, and motivation to keep providing the best products and services. 

They build trust in your brand

Eighty-four percent of consumers trust customer reviews. That’s more than those who value the opinions of influencers, friends and family (!)

This makes them especially important for companies in sectors where trust in the market as a whole is low, such as within the financial services industry. Here, reviews can have a particularly wide-reaching impact, helping to improve everything from your reputation to your sales and recruitment.

For many people, customer reviews are the last piece of the jigsaw when researching a new product or service - the final endorsement needed to know they’re making the right decision. 

Remember, people have busy lives - sometimes they just want to check they aren’t making a mistake. Make that as easy for them as possible and it’s a win for both of you.

A chance to respond

When leaving a review, one in ten customers do so in the hope of getting a direct response from the company in question. 

This also happens to make you look good to prospective customers. Acknowledging positive reviews shows you care about offering a good experience, whilst replying to negative reviews demonstrates a willingness to understand the customer’s point of view and put things right. How to respond to customer reviews is probably a topic for another article but let’s just say it’s usually best to leave a short reply inviting the reviewer to discuss the details with you in a less public forum.

Insights to drive change

For your business to improve, you need to understand what you’re doing well. And not so well. 

Customer reviews are perfect for painting a picture of where your business is performing well and where it isn’t as strong. And in my experience, this information can be quite surprising. 

When used to its full power, this data can revolutionise your approach to customer service. You might find small tweaks that can be made to your sign-up process, you could identify areas that staff would appreciate more training on, or it may become apparent that extra customer support is needed during certain days and times. This information can help you retain customers, attract new ones, and keep operations as efficient as possible. 

A useful marketing tool

In an oversaturated market full of promises, and marketing fluff, what others say about you is more important than what you say about yourself. Customer reviews are the ultimate user-generated content, so it makes sense to consider how they can be part of your marketing strategy, whether that be through your social channels, email marketing or just present on your website. 

Customer reviews can be beneficial for your SEO performance too. Including these in the titles and meta descriptions of your organic search listings entices more clicks. 

Actively welcoming customer reviews can feel quite daunting if you’re new to it, but by putting your ego aside and embracing feedback, you can harness the power of reviews to benefit all areas of your business. Best of all, you’ll likely spend less time on social media trying to calm down disgruntled customers! 

Jacqueline Dewey is CEO of the UK’s dedicated financial services review site, Smart Money People

Written by
Jacqueline Dewey
Written by
January 2, 2024