When was the last time you visited an ecommerce site where all of the brand’s products had only positive ratings? My answer would be three days ago, when the site I was looking at only had five-star reviews.
I’m sure brands have a variety of reasons they think justifies this approach. But I’m here to tell you that none of them are valid and that this practice needs to stop. If you want customers to trust your brand and have the confidence to do business with you, then you have to let some products suffer from negative reviews.
Ultimately, reviews are meant to provide trust and transparency, and when you only allow the four’s and five’s to show up, you’re missing the point of reviews in the first place. Of course, you want a 20% conversion rate and a 10x ROAS—but this shouldn’t come at the price of openly skewing what customers think about your product.
Your potential or existing customers are not stupid. When customers encounter a site with only awesome reviews, do you think they shrug, smile, and start adding products to their cart? Nope. They turn to social media or other sites where your products are sold to see what customers really think. Alternatively, if an existing customer writes a less than stellar review, and it doesn’t get posted, what do you think this person now thinks of your brand?
There’s no hiding—and no benefit in trying to do so.
If your product is awesome, it’s awesome; if it sucks, it sucks. Both constructive and destructive feedback should be viewed as gold, as it allows you to listen to what’s working for your customer and what isn’t. It enables you to make improvements whenever possible. Sure, you might need to modify your inventory planning until you get it right. But getting it right is what it’s all about when trying to generate customer interest and scaling a company or brand.
When I purchase something on a website, I typically read the one- and two-star reviews as well as the five-star ones. This creates a clearer picture of what my product experience might be like. There are plenty of times when I've purchased products with negative reviews. As a consumer, I know that a few bad ratings may come from rare experiences. A mixture of mostly good reviews with a few bad ones show that customers are generally pleased with your product, with a few exceptions. That's a much better scenario than pretending to not have any bad reviews.
Look at Patagonia, for example. Some of their products have totally terrible ratings and some are truly five-star material. However, their willingness to display the bad ratings is what encourages me to continue shopping at their store. It builds my trust in their brand. Displaying all your ratings creates a culture of transparency and shows that the company is invested in making the best possible products for their customers.
So, what do you do with the negative reviews that are bound to land on your site?
You approach them with openness, honesty, and integrity. If you mess something up, admit it and say what you’ve done to make it better. If it’s not fixed yet, pull the product and let people know when it will be resolved by offering to email them.
If you’re just trying to get that initial conversion and hope you can conceal the truth, then I don’t have great news about your chances of success. Unless you’re selling goods that make people cool, awesome, or beautiful just for owning them, it’s going to be a rough ride.
All in all, every consumer will make their buying decisions for different reasons. But isn’t it an awesome thing if they’re making their initial or repeat purchases from a baseline of trust and transparency? I believe the answer is a resounding yes—and hope you do, too.