This weekend I was using one of my Christmas presents and happened upon a piece of paper that came with it. The paper was a brief message from the seller of the product to the consumer/customer thanking them for purchasing the product, sharing about warranty information, and how to get help for issues. The paper also talked about something that all of us sellers deal with from time to time and that’s negative comments/feedback/reviews, and I thought the way they phrased it was interesting enough to talk about today. The relevant section reads: “If the product has any problems, please feel free to contact us. A negative comment won’t solve problems but communication will. A positive comment would be a great encouragement to us.”
First of all, I’m of the side of the business community that supports asking customers for reviews and feedback. I know some businesses feel like it’s pushy to ask customers to leave a review, but I don’t think it hurts to ask (especially if you do it nicely) and understand that the customer has the right to totally ignore your request or may not write one until they’ve used the product/service for some time. It’s not a great practice to push for reviews repeatedly if a customer hasn’t published one, but if you’ve got an unobtrusive invitation as part of the footer of your newsletters or on your website, that’s OK.
But back to the message from the seller, in some ways I do agree that a negative comment (review) won’t solve anything and that reaching out to a company gives both of you the opportunity to come to a better conclusion. It may feel good to vent for a moment about a less-than-great sale, but it doesn’t help resolve the issue. If you’ve tried to get help from the company and they’ve either been unresponsive or less than helpful, it’s certainly something you can include in the review you post, because the company clearly doesn’t care or has policies that other potential customers should know about.
That said, I think there is a place for mixed reviews, reviews that state both the challenges that the buyer experienced as well as the great things about the product/service and company, for instance how the company helped resolve what started as something not good/great. Mixed reviews are honest, and speak to the fact that the company has humans working there who work to make things right when they aren’t. They also help other potential customers know about limitations or preferences that they have experienced, which may affect the purchase decision that potential customer makes.
Stopping a potential customer from making a purchase isn’t a bad thing, it’s actually a really good thing if the product or service isn’t going to be right for them, therefore cutting down on returns and possible negative reviews in the future. Reviews also often provide those details that potential customers may have questions about that the company didn’t include in the product/service description, or are things that can’t be described like what it’s like to work with that person. Yes, companies should give a customer all the information they need to know before purchasing an item or service, but if we’re honest, it happens less often than we’d like to admit.
We’ve been working in a virtual world for some time now, and it looks like even more people and companies are going to be diving in based on the challenges the virus has presented. This makes it more important than ever to make sure that your company is presenting their best side to the world through the internet. Reviews share the good, bad and ugly with the rest of the world, and they’re also one of the most important ways to convince someone to buy your product or service if they’re on the fence. What are you learning from reviews customers have posted?