A New Strategy for Product Reviews

Three things we learned from user-generated content

Woman assembling furniture with BILT before leaving a product review

Your best marketers are your customers. User-generated reviews can make or break a product’s success, and there’s a tidal wave of statistics to prove it. Here are a few: 

With the myriad of syndication and product sampling options, concern surrounding fake reviews, and Federal Trade Commission regulation, the business of reviews has exploded and is ever-evolving. Best practices change quickly. 

We’ve gleaned unique insight from thousands of reviews generated inside the BILT app. Here are three things we learned: 

1.    Ask Early 

Customers are most likely to talk about their product within 8 to 24 hours of opening the box. 

This is a short window, folks. 

Logistics systems can alert you when customers receive products at their doorstep, but it’s a guessing game to know when your customer has opened the package and used your product. This is especially true for merchandise that requires set-up, assembly or installation. You don’t want to ask for feedback before the customer has even unboxed the product, but at the same time, don’t wait a week. 

When consumers use BILT’s 3D interactive instructions to assemble or install a product, they have an opportunity to leave a review within the BILT app immediately upon project completion.  

“But they haven’t even used the product yet!”  

If this went through your head, we get it. However, we’ve learned that immediately post-assembly is a great time to ask. Our brand partners tell us BILT review response rates are about 3x higher than the other methods of asking for a review, including email follow-up. 

The assembly process actually highlights the quality of a product. That’s when customers are examining the pieces and paying attention to the detail and care that went into the design and manufacturing. 

This is also when the IKEA-effect is in full force — in the honeymoon of post-assembly, when customers value their assembly or installation efforts the most.  

Take a look at these real 5-star customer reviews that came through the BILT app: 

“We love it! It was easy to follow the instructions. Everything went great putting it together and it seems to be a very good quality product. The price was reasonable. I wish it came with bolts to bolt it down to our deck. Other than that, it was exactly what our deck needed.” 

Review of a Hampton Bay 9 ft. x 9 ft. Steel and Aluminum Arched Pergola 

“Your assembly instructions right on point, and your engineering five star. As a mechanical engineer you guys were right on point, and the materials that you use good quality and rust free.”

Review of a Weber Spirit II E/S-210

“The use of the Bilt app made this extremely easy to follow! Quality is fantastic. If you plan on doing this alone, allow about 4-5 hours total. Maybe 2 hours with 2 people. Amazing product!”

Review of a KidKraft Shimmer Dollhouse 65949

Tip: On average, BILT customers can expect to increase the number of reviews by about 75% and increase their star ratings by .25 star if they do nothing else but put their product instructions in BILT. 

2.    Only Ask Verified Buyers 

A study by PowerReviews and Northwestern University suggests that reviews left by verified buyers produce more favorable results for brands and retailers than unverified reviews.

The study compared reviews generated by follow-up emails sent to verified purchasers to unprompted reviews, where people could leave feedback without producing any proof that the item reviewed was actually purchased (or even used).  

The reviews left by verified purchasers result in a higher rating average overall, coming in at a hot  4.34 stars. The unprompted reviews averaged 3.89 stars, with review ratings dropping over time. This is significant because according to a major national retailer, a single star improvement can result in a 25% increase in sales.  

Even more compelling, reviews left by verified purchasers produced a higher percentage of those coveted 5-star reviews. 

The study suggests a couple of reasons why this could be the case including social bias and varying levels of extremity in opinion. Verified purchasers are typically taken from an email prompt to a landing page, where they write a review without reading feedback left by others. They share thoughts in isolation and are less influenced by other comments. 

Unprompted reviews have a greater share of extreme negative opinions, where alleged customers or competitors may seek opportunities to lower star ratings. It’s shockingly easy to leave an unverified review on most major retail websites, but we won’t name names. 

Tip: BILT goes beyond industry standards to ensure that every review left in BILT is from a legitimate customer.  We validate unique users with Iovation and email address, provide opportunities to store receipts and use additional proprietary technology to ensure validity. 

After all, how can you improve if you never receive honest feedback from real customers? 

3.    Don’t Ignore the Haters 

As much as we wish for only positive reviews, there will always be consumers who don’t have the experience you intended. Factories sometimes leave out parts and items get damaged in shipping.  

Tip: All parts are clearly labeled in the BILT app so consumers and service reps can quickly identify missing or broken parts (saving time on customer service calls), and you can respond immediately. 

 An article in The Harvard Business Review indicates negative reviews aren’t just a source of feedback, but an opportunity to win customers. Polite, empathetic responses to negative reviews lead to a net increase in positive ratings—especially when gifts or promos are offered to unhappy customers.  

Timing plays an important role with negative reviews too. The majority of customers expect a response to their review within seven days, and expectations are everything.  

Only about 35% of brands respond to customer feedback. If you address and appropriately resolve concerns, you will forge valuable customer relationships that will work wonders for your top line (up to 7x ROI).  

Here’s how one of our brand partners turned an assembly issue into a 5-star review with a quick response: 

“Easy to assemble!  Had two small hiccups with missing hardware. Customer service sent the missing hardware overnight. I am impressed by the design and construction of the grill. This is my first Weber. I have a strong feeling it will not be my last!”

Review of a Weber Spirit II E/S 210

When it’s all said and done, a positive customer experience means positive reviews. Everything from the purchase experience, the product itself, ease of assembly or installation and any post-purchase interactions all add up to create a consumer’s overall feeling about your brand. 

We will reiterate: consumer expectations are everything.  

If you can exceed them, you’re winning. This means your customer experience should be a top priority for every employee in your organization. Everything about your product, from design to delivery, set-up, usage and maintenance should be created with the customer in mind.  

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