We live in a business-world dependent on online reviews. Not only is it rare to come across a business or product lacking in online reviews, but these brief tidbits of information have become so popular that when a business lacks them entirely, it’s suspicious. Honest customer experience is a well-trusted and valuable source in today’s market. They’re powerful enough to make a substantial impact on a business’s sales. This makes review collection a valuable part of business operations. That being said, there can be quite a lot of misunderstanding when it comes to expectation versus reality.

Here are some review collection expectations that need a little bit of tweaking in order to fit reality:

  • Expectation: My business is thriving, therefore I don’t need to put a lot of effort into review collection. Reviews will collect on their own.

This might be true if you’re already a massive company with a mile-long line of online reviews. The reality is that customers don’t think to leave an online review unless something particularly memorable or extraordinary occurred. While that memorable, review-worthy event might be an overwhelmingly positive customer experience, there’s an equally-high likelihood that it was a negative experience leading to a negative review.

Rather than relying on the unlikely outcome that your customer is motivated to leave a review all on their own, find ways to ask your customer questions: How would you rate your experience? How could we have made your experience better? Would you leave us a review?

  • Expectation: My product and my customer service are flawless, so of course all of my reviews will be positive.

Hopefully, this is true! If you’ve put in the time and effort to make sure your brand sends out quality work and you have a team of pleasant, customer-service-oriented individuals, then you’re well on your way to gaining positive online reviews. However, keep in mind that a “satisfied” customer in no way guarantees you a positive review. While they might seem happy with you and your product, you might find out later that they think your prices are too high, your website is difficult to use or your product is just not like expected. On top of that, sometimes a customer is unsatisfiable and will leave a negative review no matter what you do. A negative customer experience can be much more motivating for someone to leave a bad review than a good experience is to leave a positive review. Don’t assume your customer is happy. Check in with them and see what else you can do to make them happier.

  • Expectation: Review collection alone is enough to help my business thrive. I can let them collect and my business will benefit automatically.

While this might be partially true-- having reviews is better than not having reviews-- it’s incredibly important to pay attention and respond to these reviews. Value your customers enough to also value the reviews they leave you. While this doesn’t mean you have to build a huge customer service department in order to respond to every single review, it does mean that you should answer the questions asked, address issues that arise and try to solve any negative reviews that occur. Remember that future customers read these reviews before deciding to buy your product or service. Taking care of your current customers helps you prepare for future sales.

  • Expectation: I’ll do fine without review collection altogether since I don’t absolutely need reviews for my business to thrive.

Some businesses can thrive without reviews. In order to grow, however, you shouldn’t expect to, A) not need reviews, or B) not receive reviews, regardless of whether or not you think you need them. Studies show that online reviews heavily influence a new customer’s purchasing decision. A lack of reviews altogether suggests that your brand is inexperienced or somehow untrustworthy. 99 percent of consumers use online reviews at some point in the purchase process. Research reveals that 86 percent of consumers report reading reviews for local businesses, and 50 percent of 18-34-year olds claim to always read online reviews, before a purchase. Additionally, 50 percent of consumers say that they visit a business’s website after reading positive online reviews. It should be noted that positive reviews encourage 68 percent  of consumers to use a business while negative reviews deter 40 percent of consumers from investing in that business. Your reviews really matter!