How to Leave a Good Review - 9 Tips for the Consumer

Businesses often reach out asking for feedback on how you liked their product or service. According to an infographic from Social Media Link, over 60% of Gen Z-ers say they leave a review nearly every time they make a buying decision. This is driven by their behavior on the other side of the coin: when seeking to make a purchasing decision, nearly 70% seek reviews and recommendations “very often” and another 27.3% do so “somewhat often.”  (Do the math, that’s nearly 100%!) Consumers know that if they want to use other people’s reviews, they must also contribute to keep feedback ecosystem alive.

How to Leave a 'Good' Online Review

When companies ask you to leave a review, often you think to write the review with them in mind as the audience, giving feedback and suggestions. But online reviews are most successful when they are aimed at other consumers, giving insights and tips that help them make better decisions. While the number of stars you choose is important, what you write about and how you write it is what will truly determine how helpful your review is.

9 Tips on How to Leave a Good Review

Here are 9 tips to make sure your online reviews are helpful:

  1. Provide some descriptive information about yourself. Help other consumers understand if your perspective would match up with theirs. You don’t have to be extremely revealing in the online review, but it’s helpful to give some basic understanding. If it’s a local business, are you from the community or visiting from out of town? If it’s a product, did you buy it for yourself, for your business, or as a gift? When possible, complete the basics in your profile (for example, in Yelp). When readers know they have things in common with you, it makes them take your review more seriously.
  2. Describe what you bought/did. If you went out to dinner at a restaurant, tell the reader what you ordered. If you shopped online, say what color and size you purchased. If you visited a destination, name the specific exhibits or areas you saw. Also consider mentioning how you found the business - by word-of-mouth referral, a search engine or through seeing their vanity phone number.
  3. Be specific . Reviews that just give general platitudes about the business overall (“Great job!”) are close to useless to the reader. Say what you liked and why you liked it. Think about questions a prospective customer might need answered to make a decision. Often, you’ll only be given one set of star ratings, but you can always break down what you consider the ingredient components.
  4. Give tips and suggestions. Did you learn anything from your experience with the business that would make you do things differently next time? Is there any information you wish you had known ahead of time? Your review is going to be setting expectations for the next set of visitors. We’re sure you’d love to have an inside scoop when you go to a new place, so act as a good tour guide and pay it forward.
  5. Provide competitive insight. If you’ve had dealings with a competing provider or product, it can be helpful to include why you prefer this company’s product or service better. Remember, you’re helping readers to make decisions, so these insights can help them determine what’s the best fit for them.
  6. Frame negative feedback carefully. Keep in mind that the main audience you’re writing a review for is the prospective customer, and an online review isn’t necessarily the best place to give feedback to a company. (We recommend writing directly to the business with that information!) Excessively negative reviews or ones written in an angry tone are easy for readers to write off as being written by an unreasonable person. You won’t be taken as seriously. If you had a bad experience, you should share it in a calm, reasonable and objective way.
  7. Tell a story. Reviews that paint a mental picture for the reader are going to be more captivating and impactful. Use proper grammar, spelling and punctuation to not detract from your main points. Don’t force humor if it doesn’t come naturally, but keeping the review easy to digest is imperative.
  8. Write about all experiences. Humans are likely to leave reviews when the service was excellent or when it was terrible. Very few mid-range reviews ever get written. If someone was to click through your name (e.g. on Yelp) and see that you’ve only ever left 1-star reviews, they might not trust your judgement. Life can’t be all perfection, so don’t be afraid to leave a 3-star review in the mix, it could end up being the most helpful one a reader sees.
  9. Be concise but not too brief. Make your review to the point and avoid excessive wordiness. But also be realistic that to get the information a reader needs, you’re going to have to write at least 3-4 sentences, if not more. It’s better to write reviews as close as possible to the buying experience for accuracy, but if you don’t have the time to hash out a short paragraph on your phone, mentally jot some notes and give it your full attention later.

The good news for businesses is that if you follow the above guidelines and write your reviews with other consumers as your target audience, it benefits the business as well.  For businesses who are doing a good job, it becomes a virtuous cycle where they provide great service, get great reviews, and get more business. It’s even good news for businesses that struggle sometimes. No one can deliver impeccable service every single time, but having a sea of positive reviews makes the rare negative one a drop in the bucket. Beyond the benefit of having customer feedback to inform changes in product, processes and protocol, companies thrive when they can harness the power of their customer reviews.  

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