Everything you always wanted to know about customer reviews (but were afraid to ask)

Let’s say you sell coffee cups. You’ve taken the time to write beautiful copy about said cups. You have stunning photos of the cups bathed in soft white light (and probably set on a nice table somewhere, like this.) You’ve priced those cups so competitively you just know the customer will be intrigued.

But here’s the thing about the stuff you’re selling online: people know you’re trying to sell it. They know you’re presenting it in the best light possible.

People know this, and want something to balance that out. Something authentic. Unfiltered.

Customer reviews to the rescue

Customer reviews are a great way to provide that balance that people crave. And this isn’t just me talking. The numbers back it up, too: according to a BrightLocal survey, 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. Another survey found that nearly 55% of consumers take reviews into fair, serious, or absolute consideration before making a major purchase (like a car, or smartphone).

And of course, a study by Reevoo showed that customer reviews generate 18% more sales — 11% from a conversion increase, 2% from a higher order value, and 5% from a higher visitor return rate.


So, all in all, it definitely pays to display reviews!

1. Do make it simple for them

Customers don’t want to think about how to leave a review. It should be clear and simple. Above all, you should eliminate all the steps that aren’t writing the review.

Fortunately, there are many services that will send your customers an email after they’ve made a purchase asking them for a review. They will also help you display reviews on your site. If you’re using a platform like Shopify, Bigcommerce, or Magento, you can choose from a wide variety of review apps. 

There are plenty of other services out there too, so don’t give up on reviews if you don’t click with the first one you try!

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2. Don’t be afraid to ask

If you want a customer to leave you a review, just ask them. Let them know their opinion is appreciated, and chances are, they’ll be happy to leave a review.

Most customers are thrilled with their purchases, but don’t think about coming back to your site and leaving you a review — it’s nothing personal, it just doesn’t cross their minds! So sometimes a simple reminder or nudge may be all it takes to get them to act.

Oh, and if you get ignored the first time you ask, don’t be afraid to (politely) ask again.

Pro Tip: If you really need reviews, try offering a small incentive, like a coupon, in exchange for leaving a review.

3. Don’t hide the bad reviews

One of the most daunting parts about displaying customer reviews is getting bad ones. It happens. We get it. Anything bad that happens — whether it’s your fault or not — the customer is likely to blame you. So why expose yourself?

Because bad reviews are actually good for business. They make your business seem more authentic and legitimate because they show you’ve got nothing to hide. An Econsultancy survey found that 68% of consumers trust reviews when they see a mix of positive and negative ones, and that 30% suspect censorship if all the reviews are positive.

Negative reviews lead me to the next point…

4. Do respond to reviews

Reviews aren’t just a way for websites to boost sales by proving to potential customers how great they are; they’re also an opportunity to forge a bond with consumers via great customer service.

By actively listening to your customers’ complaints, engaging with them, and making changes to improve your business, you’re providing people with an extremely positive experience. And that can be a driver of repeat business: a survey by Lee Resources has shown that 70% of customers do more business with companies that resolve complaints in their favor.

Wrapping up

Customers reviews are a valuable tool for businesses of all sizes — they benefit Amazon as much as they do a small ecommerce site. Because the internet has created the ability to do business with almost anybody, anywhere, customer reviews are a fundamental way to ground the impersonal online experience into something warmer, more human, and, well … better.