Buyers depend on high-quality customer feedback — usually in the form of customer reviews — when selecting the right product for their business. And they’re not alone. Software and SaaS providers also consider reviews when improving their product offerings and customer experience, and aligning business strategy with buyer expectations. With so much at stake, it’s critical for providers to implement a foolproof customer feedback process to consistently capture and manage authentic feedback and avoid the pitfalls of fake or substandard customer reviews.
High-quality customer reviews enable software buyers to understand the latest technology and its — often complex — features in detail. Reviews serve buyers as helpful, peer-provided resources to determine how useful a software solution will be to their business. How often feedback is collected and refreshed on your page is important, as a product’s relevance to targeted industries or buyers depends largely on the recency of its customer reviews. Read on for four common mistakes to avoid when establishing your customer feedback process.
Mistake 1: Requesting feedback too soon, or waiting too long to establish a customer feedback program
Don’t request reviews or feedback from buyers too soon after they make their software purchase. A good rule of thumb is to follow up three to six months after closing. If you request reviews too quickly, buyers don’t have an opportunity to use the product enough to provide thoughtful, valuable feedback, and it’s likely they are still coming up to speed after implementation. Requesting feedback too quickly may also mean users haven’t had a chance to explore all available product features or interact with your customer support team.
Similarly, be sure to not send feedback requests too late — waiting until nine to 12 months following purchase may lead to a missed opportunity. By then, users may be too far removed from their initial reactions or may no longer be interested in providing a review. Request feedback within three to six months of software purchase to give users a chance to experience the product and form an opinion while details are still fresh in their minds.
Mistake 2: When requesting feedback, you ask too many or unclear questions
Develop a feedback form or survey that includes minimal questions, asked directly, and clearly, to help prevent poor-quality feedback. Each question should serve a purpose and not solicit responses you wouldn’t use in published, public reviews.
Aim to ask open-ended questions that enable users to provide accurate and honest feedback on their experience. Open-ended questions are useful for collecting detailed responses that can inform product improvements and further customer sentiment. Try leaving extra space on the feedback form for additional customer insight or comments not captured by your survey questions.
Mistake 3: Not protecting your feedback process from falsified or inauthentic reviews
Inauthentic or fake reviews defeat the entire purpose of collecting customer feedback. Typically, fake reviews consist of poorly written responses from customers with little to no software or product knowledge. Falsified reviews have the potential to hurt your brand reputation and customer loyalty in addition to providing useless information to buyers.
Keep in mind that fake reviews are unethical, and they don’t always express a negative sentiment. While fake negative reviews exist and could convince buyers to avoid a product, fake positive reviews could leave buyers with suspicions about a product and brand. Fake feedback, positive or negative, can mislead software buyers into spending money on a product that may not fit their needs and that they may not have otherwise chosen.
Mistake 4: Skipping the review-vetting process
Set up a feedback process or work with a trustworthy third-party site to ensure all reviews are authentic before publication. Remain vigilant against unverified reviewers and cautious of review sites with no or limited verification process. Ensure the quality of your feedback and that each reviewer is treated equally during the vetting process, regardless of rating. Wherever you decide to promote customer insight and product reviews, establish a feedback process to flag reviewers or reviews with potential hidden agendas or bias to combat the spread of inaccurate product information.
The bottom line: Quality feedback and customer reviews are a must-have
Quality customer reviews can be more effective than verbal or face-to-face communication in highlighting product strengths, improving customer satisfaction and extending brand reach. Real customer reviews can support marketing efforts and should be leveraged in a variety of ways — on your company website, product landing pages, social media channels, and more.
When establishing a feedback or review-collection program, be sure to have a robust verification process or a trusted third-party partner to ensure the ongoing collection of fresh reviews that will serve your brand for years to come.
Learn how to use authentic customer feedback and reviews to boost customer loyalty and your brand’s reputation in our white paper “Reviews Quality Comes First."
Rahul Kumar is a Specialist Analyst for Gartner Digital Markets. He writes reviews-based content for Software Advice, GetApp and Capterra. In his free time, he loves to travel and explore different cultures. Connect with Rahul on LinkedIn.