So you, as a customer, post a review.
Maybe it's here on TheBestCompanys.com. Maybe it's on Yelp or Amazon. You finish entering your thoughts, you give a rating, you hit submit... and then what?
Will anyone see your review? Will anyone respond?
If you're like nine out of ten consumer reviewers out there, according to our recent survey, you did it because you felt a responsibility to let others know how the company had treated you or how a product had served you. Or there's a small chance you posted the review just to vent. You might not care if anyone responds. But there's a greater likelihood that you're looking for some kind of response from the company.
The good news is, according to the same survey, 41% of reviewers were contacted by companies after submitting those reviews, whether to fix a problem, to thank the customer, or just to learn more about the customer's experience.
More than ever, companies are using online reviews to keep a finger on the pulse of their customers, to spot and resolve customer complaints, and to build better relationships with their customers. By writing reviews the right way, you can help companies serve you better and help other consumers make better decisions in the companies they work with.
But writing reviews that get noticed and get a positive response from companies takes more than just ranting-it takes a calm and measured approach. Here are five tips to write reviews that catch companies' eyes and get a response:
If you really want a review that will be helpful to other consumers and assist companies in improving, you'll make sure your reviews stick to the facts of what you experienced.
Obviously, this starts with recording your experience as it happens, in some shape or form. When did you send that unhappy email, including dates and times? When did the company respond? What was the name of the employee who responded to you? What exactly did they say? Especially in the case of negative reviews, including this information in your review makes it easier for companies to rectify the situation. Take, for example, this review left by one Princess Cruises customer on Consumer Affairs:
By providing these vital facts, this customer is much more likely-although not guaranteed-to have his or her concern addressed.
Even with positive reviews, details can still be helpful to other consumers. They give them a clearer idea of what to expect from the company being reviewed. They also help verify that the review is real and not just fiction cooked up by the company or a paid reviewer.
Of course, having these facts implies that the reviewer kept a record in the first place and even backup documentation. If/when the company responds to resolve your concern, this kind of documentation can smooth out the whole process. Unfortunately, the opposite is also true. If you don't have some kind of documentation to back up the claims in your review, your review is just hearsay and you can expect to get the sort-of apology: "We're sorry that you felt dissatisfied with our service/product but unfortunately..."
Nothing kills a company's response faster than lying in your review. Especially when we're angry with a company and we want them to fix things now, it's common for people to throw in a few exaggerations that can quickly blow up into outright lies. The problem with this tactic is, once the company realizes that you've lied, your credibility is shot. They won't help you. They might even blackball you in their system. You definitely won't get the results you want.
So take time to make sure you're being honest in your reviews. Don't over-exaggerate problems you've had with an Amazon vendor. Don't over-exaggerate how good the food at your local bistro is. As you focus on being completely honest (and did I mention sticking to the facts?) your credibility as a reviewer will grow and companies will tend to listen more, not less.
Too many would-be reviewers sit down to write a review and go straight into vent/rant mode. When consumers leave a review about a company, it's often because of an emotional reaction they had to their experience, whether negative or positive. When you're emotionally charged like this, you can end up leaving reviews that are vague, scattershot, confusing to other consumers, frustrating to companies, and just a little prone to exaggeration, like this Princess Cruises review:
"Don't start writing in a fit of rage," advises Alan Henry at Lifehacker about writing useful reviews. If you need to, take a day or two to cool down before writing your review. Consider what response you want to get from your review, beyond just giving someone a piece of your mind. Companies and other consumers are much more likely to dismiss an angry, belligerent review than one that is logical and well-thought out.
Too many customer reviews have been doomed by bad grammar, spelling, and punctuation. Yes, we all slaughter the English language daily in social media posts and texts, but when the mistakes show up in customer reviews, they instantly cast the reviewer in a negative light-perhaps as confused or less educated, but definitely not credible.
To get a feel for just how badly grammar can kill a review, check out this review from a customer of Marinello Schools of Beauty:
Don't let this happen to your review. Before you hit submit, proofread your review the way you would proofread your resume or wedding announcements. If you don't feel up to the task of proofreading, ask someone who knows their grammar, spelling, etc., to do it for you.
Some reviews are ignored simply because they're all over the place in the way they present their information, what happened, when it happened, who was involved. Unfortunately, instead of resembling a straight-forward story that moves fluidly from start to finish, too many reviews feel more like the movie Memento, with events scrambled into a puzzle. With a ton of effort, companies and consumers might be able to decipher what the reviewer is trying to say, but most people aren't willing to put in that much effort.
"If you need to take some time away from the keyboard to really organize your thoughts and think about your experience from multiple sides of the issue, take it," says Alan Henry. He continues:
"Even if you're writing anonymously, write like someone's going to read your words back to you... [I]t does make you stop and think about how you're making your case-which should be intelligently, coherently, and honestly, even if you had a horrible experience with a store's customer service, or a manufacturer who refused to replace a damaged shipment."
Yes, there's a lot to consider when submitting a customer review... if you want others to notice it. Luckily, there are some tried and true guidelines you can follow to make sure your review is informative, noticeable, and helpful. For more in-depth tips on savvy review-writing, I would recommend Alan Henry's review template on Lifehacker, as seen here:
I hope these suggestions have been helpful. Keep submitting those reviews!