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Why giving your customers some space could lead to more positive reviews


We all know that customer reviews can be really beneficial to your business.

If you’ve got happy customers you want them to tell the world about their wonderful experience to help boost demand for your products and services.

If there’s feedback, you’d better hear that too so you have chance to turn around unhappy customers and make improvements for the future.

But how do you encourage customers – happy or otherwise – to take the time to write a review?

A lot of brands request reviews immediately after a customer interaction: rating the helpfulness of a call to a support centre before hanging up the phone or filling out a feedback card about a dining experience before leaving a restaurant.

The idea is to take advantage of the moments when a consumer has the transaction fresh in their mind and can provide the most accurate information. This goes for online reviews. If you can catch someone while they’re still on your website you have a better chance of getting them to fill in a form, answer some questions or click on a smiley emoticon.

However, new research has suggested that giving your customers a cooling off period could increase your chances of getting a positive review. The study, published in the  Journal of Consumer Psychology, delved into the science behind review writing and what factors would affect the nature of the review.

Researchers focused on two specific factors that had previously been shown to have effects on the positivity of a review: spatial distance and temporal distance. Past research had identified that these factors had effects on review writing independently, but this more recent study discovered that they also play a role in conjunction with one another.

In short – the more time and distance between the product experience and writing the review resulted in more positive reflections on that experience. For example, the study revealed after looking at over 166,000 online restaurant reviews, customers who lived further from the restaurant gave the best reviews. The same principle applied to those who waited up to three months to write their review, as opposed to penning it within a month of their visit.

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Why worry about the science behind customer reviews?

Online reviews can have a significant impact on your company’s reputation and its chances of securing repeat customers. The most popular third party review sites, such as TripAdvisor and Zomato (formally Urbanspoon), have become virtual kingmakers in their respective spaces.

TripAdvisor, which focuses on accommodation and travel, and Zomato, which is concerned with the food and beverage industry, both act as central hubs for consumers to publish reviews about businesses and their experiences. They have a huge impact on where people spend their money.

Zomato now has ten million reviews from over 23 countries, whereas TripAdvisor has amassed a whopping 320 million reviews in 48 countries.

It’s not just consumers that care about how well your products and services are rated. Reviews also have a substantial impact on your Google search rankings. Google has itself acknowledged this fact on its own help page: sites that have a more reviews and positive ratings will be looked at more favourably when determining search rankings.

How do you positively influence your reviews?

Aside from giving your customers some space, what else can you do to encourage positive reviews?

One thing that can really help is to make sure you’re contributing to the information your customers use to make their decisions. If you have an active blogging strategy, informative landing pages and regular updates on social media you have a better chance of influencing what people think of your business.

By providing lots of helpful, useful content, you can build stronger relationships with your target market, increasing the chances of them wanting to give you a review when they’re happy and reducing the chances of them attacking you in public if they have a bad experience.

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Amber Denny About the author