In Part 2 we addressed what buyers are looking for when they consult online reviews and how to collect them, including supporting stats from the research conducted by Software Advice, in their survey of 386 B2B software buyers.
- 71% of buyers will only consider reviews written in the past 6 months
- 47% of reviewers said being asked for a review didn't bother them at all
- Half of users actually leave reviews to provide product feedback re: feature requests and bug fixes
Now that we understand the importance of reviews, as well as why people leave them and how to collect them, it's time to address the scary part - What about negative reviews?
Our key message here is Don't be afraid of the negatives...even a bad is review is good for you!
One of the biggest reasons B2B companies shy away from online reviews is that they're afraid they'll end up getting bad ones. While this is natural, as with all good things the positives outweigh the negatives, and you can't let fear hold you back. To help assuage this fear, Software Advice revealed some incredible facts about negative reviews.
What's really telling, is that a large majority (77%) of buyers said that a mix of positive and negative reviews would make a given software product's online reviews
seem more authentic. Likewise 76% perceive a company with a mix of positive and negative as more trustworthy. What's really surprising is that a software with all positive reviews is basically seen in the same light as one with no reviews at all - this makes sense, since we're all intelligent beings and something that appears 100% positive would strike alarm bells, seeming fake. I mean, what if the company paid for those reviews, or just posted them all themselves?
The most important thing to remember is that buyers (especially B2B buyers) are very intelligent - they aren't going to base their decision on a single bad review. In fact, 65% of respondents said that a single negative online review was either not at all likely, or minimally likely to deter them from the software at all.
Software users are also savvy - 73% of respondents said they would discredit reviews that were "exaggerated or hyperbolic", and a further 57% would overlook those that expressed unreasonable expecations from the buyer.
But what if it's a legitimate bad review?
Of course, a cluster of negative reviews around the same topic results in 44% of businesses being very likely or extremely likely to be deterred. But don't let this stop you - if you happen to get a series of negative reviews around a certain topic, take it as an opportunity to improve. This is incredibly valuable information for you as a software provider as it gives you immediate insight into potential new features you can add, or a bug that needs to be fixed, or a customer service issue that needs to be addressed. Learn from your reviews, and use them to improve the customer experience.
*Pro tip: Respond to as many negative reviews as you can, as positively as you can
When you do get a bad review, try to respond to it in a positive light - keep in mind that everyone makes mistakes, but it's how you respond to those mistakes that can create an exceptional customer experience. In the same survey, 50% of buyers said they would discount a negative review if the software vendor responded to it thoughtfully - what a great opportunity to make lemonade out of lemons!
Let's say you had 100 reviews, and 70% of them were positive, leaving 30% negative. If you respectfully answered the negative ones that would be like having 85% positive reviews! So not only does it reverse the negative factor, but remember that you also boost your trust/authenticity factor by having a realistic mix of positive and negative reviews.
In summary, online software reviews are simply too powerful to ignore - they're gaining popularity in a big way in the B2B software space, and if you want to be a player, you simply must participate.
To read the full Software Advice report click here: Online Software Reviews and the Power of the Crowd
Now we want to hear from you, tell us about your best/worst online review experiences!