Something that came up recently got the ol’ brain box ticking over and took me to what some may call the bleeding obvious – a question that I imagined should have a universal and obvious answer – what is a review? It may sound simple, as we may think we know what a review is but as I’ve found out, some people don’t.
What took me to this essential question was a business owner saying he believes that only 100% percent reviews are worth anything and asserting the notion that customers only choose businesses that have 100% or 5 star reviews. I have heard this before and to some degree I understand it but the actual reality of reviews and how consumers both leave feedback and absorb it, paints a vastly different picture.
So, what is a review?
In essence a review is one person’s perspective on an event, a product, a job, a piece of music, art, a cafe, restaurant, or the cleaning services at an airport. Basically, most human endeavours are open to review from others and feedback forms an important part of informing someone else’s actions based on that review. For example, I share my experience of a film I have seen, someone reads it, and feels what I have said is enough to make them take the time to watch it too. Some people may read my review and feel that they’d rather give the movie a miss because they don’t identify with what I am saying. A review is opinion shared.
There are no absolutes and we are all different
Because a review is opinion, then we have to remember that we are all different and formulate different judgements and outlooks. That’s just who we are as a species – we don’t all see things in the same way and we do not agree on everything. Where one person sees perfection another sees a minor imperfection. While someone loves Vegemite, another loves Marmite, and there may not be any middle ground.
How do consumers read reviews?
Interestingly, there are no absolutes here either. Some look for 5 stars only, some don’t trust 5 stars. Some think there is something amiss with consistent 5 star reviews because they know that we all have different perspectives. A big chunk of consumers are drawn to 4 star reviews – they feel comforted by the mild variation is scores and see a balanced and thoughtful collection of opinions. Most consumers will, however, stay away from products and businesses with a litany of 1 star reviews and that makes sense. However, the odd 1 star review in a collection of good reviews is taken with a grain of salt. What I have learned is that consumers will make their own choices but will take the time to do so, reading a number of reviews before coming to a decision.
If you can’t accept opinion then you’re missing out
Going back to the business owner I mentioned at the beginning, what I have realised is that he does not accept the opinions of his customers and essentially is trying to write his own feedback. That misses the whole point and is entirely disingenuous. I would suggest a little bit of acceptance and common sense is helpful here.
In saying that, I do understand when a business owner has gone the extra mile, done more work than was expected, created something that the customer could only have dreamed of, and then received average feedback. But not every job is like that and nor is every customer.
Opinions can sometimes be difficult to accept but once you realise that most consumers are looking for more than just a repetition of excellence and 5 stars, it makes the whole exercise and value much easier to digest.