How important are reviews?

I’ve sold a few things on eBay, I’m guessing many of you have, and so you’ll already be aware of how important the review system is and how eager people are to protect that 100% rating. Someone whom I sold something to wasn’t happy and wrote me a negative review, they hadn’t given me the opportunity to rectify anything or make anything up to them. As a result, what they have written remains a permanent record on my eBay profile. Luckily for me however, they’d pressed the 5-star option by accident so, despite their comment being negative they’d given me top marks! Boom!

Like most eBayers, I just look at the star rating of a seller, the comments tend to be repetitive and don’t give any valuable information. This is most likely because I know what I’m buying, I already trust the product and it is the seller I’m unsure of.

It was the other way around entirely when I bought my generator, a specialist piece of equipment, from a retailer that I trusted. I read review after review to find out what I needed and how it would benefit me. The generator I eventually plumped for didn’t get 5-star reviews across the board, some were 3-star and others went as low as 1. If I’d judged this product entirely on it’s rating then I would not have bought it, but it was because people had made the effort and written the reviews, both good and bad, that I bought it. Up to now, it’s been a good buy!

Being in the catering industry has made me realise how important reviews are particularly as I’m a one-person business and I’m reliant on having a good reputation. It’s hard to get reviews and in this world of Twitter and Facebook, it’s even harder to recover from a disparaging review. So, what should we do?

  1. Protect yourself against bad reviews. Ensure your standards are always high and consistent and the product or service you provide is good. If someone isn’t satisfied, do all you can to rectify the situation there and then. I once (it only happened once – honest) burned the edges of a crepe I served. I couldn’t remake it as I had no more of the filling the customer wanted. I gave it to her for free. What did I lose? The cost of a crepe. What did I gain? A happy customer who got something for nowt. If she’d left unhappy she may have posted a critical review, the cost of which could have cost me a lot more than the price of a crepe.
  2. Talk to your customers and build a relationship. Have a chat! I hate asking strangers to review me and my products, so I chat to them and make them friends. Maybe not friends enough to go to the cinema together or share my family secret but certainly enough to recognise them again as a returning customer.
  3. Share your story. My first reviews came from people whom I told that I was a brand-new business. They recognised how difficult it is to become established and were keen to lend their support.
  4. Review other people. You can’t complain about not getting any reviews if you’re not writing any! One of my favourite parts of events I attend is post-event sharing where stall holders give our products away to other caterers rather than let it go to waste. If I have a coffee from the lady next door or some Korean food from the guy opposite is it disingenuous to review it? Bear in mind I’m reviewing the food and the service as opposed to the cost. Of course it isn’t.
  5. Be responsive. If someone reviews you and says something nice, thank them, continue that positive relationship. If they say something not so nice, apologise and see if you can remedy the situation. You may not get a response but other people who read your reviews will see that you’re attempting to repair things and that you’ve done all you can.
  6. Show off! You get a great review then let everyone know! Share it on social media. Make it your Facebook banner. Want to get creative? Use a website like Canva.com and turn that comment into a work of art that is perfectly sized for which ever social media outlet you use.

Hope that all makes sense and may help. If it does, don’t be afraid to leave a review!

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