Just as nobody likes to be the first to put on a record on a jukebox when it's silent, the value of that first review cannot be underestimated. According to the research, that first review will double traffic on Amazon for a product. There is also a sweet spot of between 30 and 50 reviews where people can take them seriously enough to take an average rating as realistic. More is fine, but the value of each additional review depreciates once that sweet spot is reached.
Another interesting point was that the most successful products on Amazon do not have five-star ratings. Instead, the average of 4.3 to 4.7 stars out of 5 is the bestseller zone. This is presumably because nobody believes a product that has many five-star reviews, and we also don't expect everything to be perfect all the time.
I don't know about you, but I love looking at the one-star reviews on sites. A recent one on Amazon stood out against many good reviews, citing that the cantilevered sunshade blew in wind a little, prompting other reviewers to point out that that is what the wind will do to most things. Hotel and holiday sites are always a good hunting ground here, as people complain about aspects such as the weather or some perceived slight by a hotel not allowing them to check out late, even though they had not selected or paid for that option.
For brands, however, shouldn't reviews have to go a step further? They can't just be about driving traffic to find out more about a product that has a lot of nice yellow stars next to it. Put it this way -- how many times have you been asked to provide feedback on a product or service? How many times have you had a good reason to point out some bad service or a failing on the part of the brand? How many times was this ever followed up?
I always provide customer feedback. Overwhelmingly good but sometimes there are negatives. A good case in point was Santander changing my security details, without telling me and then freezing my account, without telling me. Apparently this had happened to many customers who had been part of another bank that Santander bought. They had no security questions set up for them, so when these suddenly had to be answered, there was no way to go through and see you bank account details. You weren't warned that these had been put in place, and there was no possible way for you to progress.
Then, due to inactivity -- caused not least by me not being able to enter a bank account there was no earthly way of entering -- my account was frozen. So, after catching on that I had to set up some security answers in a branch, I could not log on because my account was frozen. The bank did not have a policy of telling people that their accounts are frozen -- they just let you guess that was the reason you couldn't get access, even though you've just set up the security on the account face to face.
The guys who eventually cleared this up for me on the phone said this was an issue that really got on customers' nerves and suggested I gave some feedback when sent the obligatory email as to how my experience had been. And what happened? Nothing! No offer to get back to me, no thanks for pointing out a ridiculous flaw in their approach. Honestly, it's the worst customer experience I've had with a bank and it was all of the bank's making.
Yet I can bet you they're still stumbling along making the same mistake, not checking what people are telling them, not checking the feedback forms their own staff ask you fill in to raise the issues because nobody's listening to them either.
So brands that look at reviews as just a way of edging closer to a 5 out of 5 rating really need to look further. Sure, there are some idiots out there whose opinions are not worth listening to, but if you actually take the time to go through reviews, there are bound to be some nuggets there of where your brand is going wrong.
If you don't, then you probably need to wonder -- why on earth are we sending out requests for feedback, if we have no intention of going through them and acting on the salient points?