It’s a fact: online reviews are powerful. Almost everyone reads them, many of us have written at least one — positive or negative — and most of us award online reviews the same credibility as a recommendation from a personal friend. Online reviews influence which movies we watch, our dining choices, where we stay on vacation, and what products Amazon ships to our homes.
But how do online reviews influence businesses?
It’s true, companies have a vested interest in acquiring as many five-star reviews as possible. Per the Harvard Business Review, a one-star increase on a business’s Yelp profile correlates with a five to nine percent increase in revenue. Conversely, the presence of negative reviews on a company profile can ward off an average of 40 percent of potential customers.
Look at any product page or company listing and you’ll see clearly that less-than-stellar reviews are bound to happen. In fact, nearly 75 percent of buyers say negative reviews give depth and insight to a product; and as we covered in a recent post about the home security industry, reviewers that give a company four out of five stars in particular provide specific, actionable feedback that smart companies use to improve their products and services, and thus elicit more five-star reviews.
Take Pestie, for instance.
Founded in 2019, Pestie markets itself as the first subscription-based, do-it-yourself pest management provider in the industry. Depending on the subscription plan, the company will send customers either one or multiple easy-to-use sprayer kits, complete with application instructions and safety equipment like protective gloves. Many customers experienced a relatively painless process of ordering their equipment and correctly applying the pesticide. However, a handful of four-star reviewers saw some room for improvement and, more importantly, posted about it.
Mark G. from Austin, Texas said that while he found subscription process easy and the pesticide effective, the spraying apparatus required some non-intuitive adjustments: "There are some tricks to applying the treatment such [as] unscrewing the wand applicator a tad from the bag to allow air in. Otherwise, the sprayer stops working. Offering those kinds of tips in the box would be helpful. Overall, I'm very happy with Pestie's performance and product.”
And Mark G. wasn't alone. Multiple four-star reviewers reported some kind of issue with Pestie's sprayer. Andrew Cork from Woodway, Texas said his only negative comment was that "the last two sprayers have not sprayed consistently." Meanwhile, Sarder from Richmond, Texas reported liking the price and the concept of DIY pest control overall, "but the sprayer is slow and takes a while to use."
Customer Review: Vance from Murfreesboro, Tennessee
“The sprayer wasn't very good. It kind of quit working before I was done. I ended up having to use my [own] sprayer.”
Another reviewer, Jenny from Marietta, Georgia, also had issues with the sprayer, but her concerns had less to do with performance and more to do with waste: "I just want to make sure that they are moving towards less single use items and specifically letting us reuse our sprayers so we're not having to throw them away every time because it seems very wasteful and not environmental.”
In other words, while customers generally enjoyed the concept of DIY pest control and had overall good interactions with Pestie’s customer service team, the single-use sprayer implement included in every pest control kit lacked consistent performance and, at least in one case, was seen as wasteful.
As of May 2021, four-star reviews on Pestie’s Best Company profile accounted for approximately 25 percent of the company’s total reviews. Considering five-star reviews accounted for almost 70 percent of Pestie’s reviews, the company could have easily ignored the content of these four-star reviews and counted itself lucky to have such a high average score.
Instead, Pestie read the reviews, and got to work.
To Mark G. in Austin, Texas who complained that his sprayer stopped working, a Pestie representative publically replied, “Hi Mark, thank you for the feedback! This is great advice, I am going to pass this along to our team.”
Some companies would have left the exchange at that, but Pestie took it a step further. To Doug Ratazcak in Branson, Missouri who left a similar complaint about a faulty sprayer, the company said this:
“Thanks for taking the time to leave us a review Doug. We are so sorry you experienced a sprayer that did not work. Recently, we hit the drawing board and re-designed the sprayer from the bottom up. Our new sprayer is more reliable and powerful than ever! Our customer care team is going to reach out to you shortly and get a replacement kit sent out if you would like.”
And to Jenny in Marietta, Georgia who expressed concerns about the environmental impact of single-use plastic sprayers, Pestie responded with, “Thank you for the honest feedback Jenny. We recently redesigned our sprayer and it's now more reliable, twice as powerful, and reusable! You will receive our new sprayer in your spring shipment! We would love to know what you think of the new reusable sprayer.”
Most, if not all companies understand the impact online reviews can have on their business from a reputation management perspective; but the best companies, like Pestie, know online reviews can contribute so much to their ability to grow and innovate. So long as customers provide specific, actionable feedback in their reviews, smart companies will listen and look for ways to get better!
Review Hack: When four is greater than five
Like the company, but have some suggestions? Businesses tend to pay more attention to four-star as opposed to five-star reviews. They will be more likely to reach out to see what can be done to resolve your concern, and, if successful, invite you to update your review to five stars.