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Reviews, a minefield of opportunity

Updated: Apr 11, 2022

OK, so we have all seen the products with 5000 reviews and called foul on them, bots can do anything these days! (or maybe I just reek of envy). However, as producers of anything in the consumer sphere, we yearn for good reviews. They are not only mood enhancing but they give you a good steer as to whether you are on the right path or not and they can take you up a wrung or two in that e-commerce marketplace. So, what's not to love? Well, there is no accounting for idiots and incomprehensible, illogical reasoning behind a bad review and that can dash your standings.

Take the,

"I was very happy with this product, it really worked as advertised but it did not fit the space and my returns experience was a nightmare", 1 star


For a well known tea brand

Wow, that's a corker. Now maybe the brand is happy with this, given that the package needs to sell the product but really..

The law of averages

and then there's the law of averages. You create what you believe to be kick a.. product and the reviews trickle in, all 5 stars but then...

"Oops there's one!"

Nice spread!!

Two reviews of the same "Ginger" titled and profiled tea

I am not hiding the fact that this was a rating on one of our teas, it's ok, really! A steer is a steer and I would prefer reviews than not (please and thank you) but have a heart! I get it that some might not like ginger but, it says that that was what it was going to taste of so, maybe it's confusion over what you are reviewing. Is it the effectiveness of the product to live up to it's stated description or is it more a commentary on the individual and their ability to review?

I suspect it is a bit of both but it should not be a barometer to consumer comprehension, about what is on offer. A case in point

Amazon review of Ela's Breakfast Blend

The title is very confusing and misleading "Ms Reviewer"! N0where on the product or description does it claim to be organic, because it isn't! But your review does matter to small businesses like ours and an investment in the courtesy of correctness is all we ask (Fat chance!).

Look, we small businesses that expose ourselves to ratings must take the bad with the good and accept that we are not perfect (thank Heavens!) and 4.2 as an average I can take, particularly if it's out of 982 ratings as that is pretty declarative.

Managing the environment

All the above is , apart from a small and personal rant, a brief glimpse into the pitfalls that lie in wait for the unsuspecting voyager into the land of reviews. While I am sure there are bots and other employable devices to "assist" in this land of discovery, I prefer the organic variety, "People" but they need managing too!

Opinions, be careful what you ask for!

The psychology of asking someone's opinion is fraught with danger. What service or product is consumed, without so much as a passing smile or grumble, has now entered the world of overt scrutiny.

What was once a "looks good, throw it in the basket, take it home and chug it" refreshment (5 stars, in the sub conscious) is now...

"A passable iced tea with a slightly annoying amount of citric, served up in a bottle with an annoyingly difficult lid to open; God forbid you have arthritis!" 2 Stars

It is nothing to get angry over, you asked the question and human nature prevailed!

taking back control

To avoid this and, by the way, I am taking the highly unprofessional route of "Batism by fire", do what I say not what I have done!

If you are going to put a product or service up for review then

Under-promise and Over-deliver

Do not let your enthusiasm for your product/service's attributes override an unarguable relaying of the facts

Use language that is unambiguous

Do not let the investigative mindset of the consumer lose track of the reason to score because of some technical half truth or miscommunication. You want the product to be reviewed not what you say about the product!! Nothing riles a judge more than to have their evaluation of a product contested by the Vendor's pitch...expect a mark down for the discrepancy.

Be minimalist with everything but images

Avoid taking up too much of a Consumer's time with messaging (they can always go to your site if they want more) and less words mean less opportunity for scrutiny. Let them look but not study, give them that which supports but can in no way contest their experience of the product.

Remember, you asked for it!

Finally, control is about understanding that reviews are not infallible. Do not focus on the fallibility of the system or reviewers but take a "spread" of reviews as an opportunity to hone your products and/or messaging, as needs be. The data is powerful IF reviewed dispassionatelty!

Sampling consumers

As a start up or when launching a new product line up, free samples are a tactic in the arsenal of possibilities and should be linked to an invite to review but, remember the above!

If you have 900 reviews and an average of 4.4 then you have a pretty solid idea that this is a keeper but when your marketing department and NPD gurues have come up with the latest whizz bang wallop product, it pays to be cautious.

Communication with samples can help.

Make sure that the target consumers understand that this is a new product and that their feedback is critical to success....make them feel part of the team and share the responsibility, for success.

Invite them to post positive results on line but

Ask them to give feedback to the company for any recommendations for improvement

In conclusion

This sounds as if I know what I am talking about but I don't. I just know how we have plugged holes in our own foray into this opportunistic but dangerous territory.

If you really want to learn what to do there are countless professional services willing to take your money to give you complicated and expensive pointers.

I just hope that you leave them, a review!!

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