Why Businesses Should Prioritize Authentic Customer Reviews

May 20, 2020
Contributor: Ryan Kent

Prioritize high-quality, authentic customer reviews to help software buyers identify relevant solutions and make important B2B purchase decisions.

As more product information becomes available online, it can be difficult for buyers to determine what’s relevant and needed to make important purchase decisions. How can we guide distracted buyers to the software solutions that will best fit their business needs? Customer reviews are a great place to start.
 

The key to high-value customer reviews: Authenticity

Customer reviews offer a brief, peer-provided summary of a product and help buyers narrow their options. Individually, reviews act as candid consumer feedback related to real-world use, free from marketing hype. Collectively, they yield high-level insight that helps buyers quickly filter the massive number of product options. Aside from creating a helpful experience for buyers, you can use reviews to learn more about your customers, identify product gaps, build promotional and social media campaigns, and run competitor analysis.

The caveat to those benefits is that reviews lose their value if they aren’t legitimate. Recent reports exposing paid networks of reviewers, or of suppliers padding third-party profiles with fake reviews, place review sites and programs in doubt and undermine the positive impact of authentic reviews and customer feedback.

Watch now to learn how the quality of customer reviews plays a critical role in your business's success.
Carefully select a reviews platform or review site

Maintain a reputable presence online and reap the benefits of valid customer feedback by hosting your reviews on a credible third-party site. Ensure that platform has a dedicated team of investigators who manually review each and every online customer review submitted. The review site should safeguard against business reviews that violate an established set of guidelines and it should take a systematic approach to validate each reviewer’s identity.

Here are three things any reputable third-party platform or review site should validate: 

  1. Whether the reviewer exists, and is not a false or spoofed identity

  2. Whether the reviewer has conflicts of interest, or if conflicts exist between the reviewer and the software provider (such as being an employee or competitor of the product’s company)

  3. Whether the review was submitted on the reviewer’s behalf by the software provider or another party  
     

At Gartner Digital Markets, we’ve found that products with zero reviews have conversion rates 37% lower compared to those with a single verified review. And products with 10 or more authentic reviews double their conversion rates through an increase in site traffic by 127% compared to products with zero reviews.
 

A negative review beats a fake review 100% of the time

Don’t let the fear of negative customer feedback encourage you to collect falsified positive reviews. Even a negative review can provide an opportunity to identify, and resolve, customer challenges before they escalate. Negative reviews serve as a valuable social proof, and increase buyer perception of the authenticity of your reviews collectively, as well as your business. Publicly respond to feedback left in a negative review as an opportunity to highlight the quality of your team’s customer service. Prioritize legitimate online review collection over positive reviews to guide better-informed, qualified leads — with a higher chance of conversion — to your site.
 

Learn more about how to ensure the overall quality of your customer reviews, and all that goes into a high-quality, authentic review with our “Reviews Quality Comes First” white paper.
 

Ryan Kent
Ryan Kent is the Director of Reviews Operations for Gartner Digital Markets. Ryan helped create, implement and scale Digital Markets’ Reviews Quality Assurance and Compliance programs. When he’s not working on improving the quality of our reviews, he and his wife have their hands full of kids, cats and dogs! Connect with Ryan on LinkedIn.

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