To Review or Not to Review: The Importance of Reviews and How to Get Them

6th May 2015

For e-commerce businesses, reviews are a golden egg. Receive a good one, and it can mean an increase not just in popularity but also revenue. Here, I discuss how one brand gains their reviews and the techniques that can be employed in order to maintain positive customer opinions.

Why and how do I get reviews from my customers?

These days, reviews are vital. For e-commerce, having a dedicated section for reviews and testimonials is the best way to inspire customers to use your service or business, and companies like TripAdvisor have made reviews only more influential and integral to the customer experience.

One company I work with has implemented a number of ways cultivate reviews. Some of these include:

Products for reviews – The Internet is awash with influencers whose enormous followings make them an ideal platform through which to advertise products. We offer bloggers and influencers a selection of products in return for a review on their website and social media.
Not forgetting existing customers – It’s important to value those customers who already use your site, rather than simply trying to attract new customers. We’ve started to send existing customers samples along with their orders to give a little extra back and entice them to leave a review. This is a great technique and we hope, makes the customer feel that little bit special.
Use an e-commerce review application – We’re also incorporating easy-to-use e-commerce review programs within the website which allows customers to leave reviews easily and increases the chances of them leaving one in the first place. There are numerous applications of this nature including Yotpo, Trustpilot and Feefo. Unfortunately they’re paid, but the customer comes first and a customer who sees genuine and honest reviews is going to feel far more comfortable about purchasing something they’ve never seen from someone they’ve never met!
Value the customer – Showing a customer how important they are and making them feel special is another way to entice a positive review and create a friendly buzz around a product or brand. We say thank you to customers and use social media to share existing reviews so passive customers can see them. Additionally, we aim to be as knowledgeable as possible, and in doing so offer the customer a better all-round experience.

What do I do if I get a bad review about my company’s customer service?

Sometimes there’s nothing you can do to avoid a bad review. For every ten happy customers there is bound to be one who finds something negative to say. Having said that, they are not always wrong and receiving a bad review can be the best way to work out areas of service which need working on. A bad review is painful to read, but it allows the company to rectify errors and prove to the unhappy customer their problem can be sorted.


If a customer writes a bad review about service or a product, the company has a chance to put it right. One can reply apologetically and offer a step-by-step guide to the returns policy, with suggestions of alternative products that may be better suited. This is a personal reply to the complaint, and can appease the reviewer more than a default apology sentence, which can feel dishonest and forced.

So, how many customers actually read reviews before buying?

A 2013 study conducted by Dimensional Research showed a staggering 90% of online customers were influenced into buying a product or using a service based on their reading of positive reviews. Of the 1,046 respondents, up to 86% said a negative review would influence their decision. The study also demonstrated the effect of social media platforms on reviewing, with the most popular site for positive reviews being Facebook. The most common place to find negative reviews was revealed to be online review sites.

When it came to what made customer service bad, 72% of respondents said having to explain their problem multiple times to multiple people was the most annoying thing. Surprisingly, a lower number (51%) blamed the bad customer service on the problem not being resolved, meaning that the way the issue is handled rather than whether or not it can be sorted is what the customer deems important.

Additionally, a somewhat new trend is customers trusting companies with ONLY positive reviews less and less – indeed; a negative review or two can actually be a positive!

There are some more interesting statistics on this eConsultancy blog which I haven't covered here.

What techniques can be used to help e-commerce sites get good reviews?

There are several methods e-commerce sites can employ in order to lead customers into leaving a review. Some of the best include:
Be transparent – Have delivery information onsite and easy to digest such as here.
Be contactable – Have contact information in an obvious place so customers do not have to look too hard and get frustrated when trying to get in touch as with here.
Be contemporary – As it’s 2015 the era of online, incorporate modern ways of communicating with customers. Consider adding an online chat feature to your website, this helps you cater to all the ways in which the modern customer wants to communicate.
Be encouraging – Customer service is a vital part of e-commerce and having reviews is a metaphorical shop window. Put your customer service up for scrutiny and give customers the chance to question your methods, offering them something your competitors do not – openness and value.

People are by nature interested in the opinions of others. A bad review no longer means the customer or employee are bad, it is an opportunity to improve the business and the customer experience, which – let’s face it – is no bad thing.


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