I’ve received at least a half dozen requests to post a review in the past two weeks. It used to be that, when I’d receive such a request, my lazy, selfish, good-for-nothing brain would come up with at least a half dozen reasons why I shouldn’t stop what I was doing and write a review.
1. It takes too much time and it won’t do me any good personally.
2. There are already enough reviews about the product or service; mine won’t really matter.
3. The product or service is fine as is, so the provider doesn’t need any feedback.
4. I didn’t like the product or service and I don’t want to publicly ding anyone.
5. I don’t personally know or care about the vendor/provider.
6. I don’t mind giving star ratings, but I’m not sure what to say beyond that.
7. I fully intend to write a review. Just not right now.
Do any of these excuses sound familiar to you? Well, here’s the thing: we live in a review-driven world.
Reviews matter to other customers.
I rely on restaurant reviews all the time, and I’ve discovered a variety of relatively unknown culinary gems thanks to reviews. I’ve also used sites like Trip Advisor for travel plans, Angie’s List for home vendors, Health Grades for doctor ratings, and Amazon for nearly everything else. For the most part, I rely on ratings for positive results, not for horror stories.
But recently I experienced just how important a negative review can be, too. I had been in a car accident (not my fault) and my insurance company ordered a tow truck for me. Over the next several hours, I endured numerous shenanigans by said towing company including finding my car abandoned randomly on a road a short distance from where the truck had picked up my car and learning the tow company subsequently hauled my non-drivable car clear across Seattle when they had been directed to deliver it to a body shop less than ten miles from the scene of the accident. When I demanded they deliver the car to that spot and return the keys to me (the registered owner), they refused. Fuming, I went home and immediately went online, where I discovered numerous 1-star reviews and F-ratings for this company. (One reviewer said they had to get the police involved to even get their car back from the tow company.) This research led me to take a look at the body shop that had also been recommended by my insurance claims agent, and I discovered that it, too, had a seriously deficient rating. Thankfully, my regular insurance agent is super customer-oriented and got the mess untangled for me, but I wouldn’t have even known what mess I was in, or what greater mess I was headed for, if I hadn’t taken a look at Yelp.
Did you know that review experts say both good and bad reviews are important? If a product only receives a good review, customers become suspicious. Also, what is bad for one person might be great for someone else. Is the restaurant too quiet for you? That’s okay; I love quiet restaurants!
Reviews matter to the vendor/provider.
Recent surveys show that reviews influence 75 to 90% of buyers, especially online buyers. Online reviews also influence SEO statistics (search engine optimization), so products and services with more reviews get more visibility. And sometimes a certain number of reviews is required for a vendor or provider to participate in promotional and other opportunities.
As an author, I know how critical reviews are. I also know how hard it is to get someone to take five minutes out of their day to post a review on Amazon or Goodreads. (You don’t have to buy the book from Amazon to post a review there, as long as you’ve purchased something from Amazon, at some point in your life.) One of the requests I received in the last week was from a writer friend of mine. When I received her email, I thought surely I had written a review for her book. But indeed I had forgotten to, even though I thought it was a compelling story with an unforgettable protagonist. Shame on me, I said to my mirror, and then I sat down to write and post the review.
What goes around comes around.
(You don’t really need me to explain this, do you?)
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So, I’m asking you to seriously consider expanding your review-writing practice, especially for products or services or experiences that matter to you. Or vendors (or writers) that matter to you. It really will only take five minutes. Give the product or service a rating from 1 to 5 stars, and write two or three sentences about it. It doesn’t need to be anything fancy or profound.
Just abide by this simple review etiquette.
1. Be honest. Customers can see through flimsy, glowing reviews.
2. Be concise. Customers won’t read lengthy diatribes. Just get to the point.
3. Be kind. Even though experts say negative reviews are okay, I usually don’t post one–especially for writers or other sole practitioners. I would much rather contact the individual directly with my thoughts than post it online. But if you were deeply unsatisfied and want to post a negative one, please recognize that your kindness will have a greater impact on future products or services by the vendor/provider than a frothy explosion of anger.
You might be wondering if I’ve replied to all those reviews I’ve intended to write lately. Yes and no. The two outstanding requests relate to a) a paddle that was meant to go with a stand-up paddle board; the paddle board was delivered late, so I haven’t had a chance to review the paddle yet, and b) the towing company. I’m waiting for the anger to subside on that one. I’m almost there.
You also might be wondering where you can post reviews for my books. Here are some handy links!
The Damnable Legacy:
Women on the Brink: