The traces of collective choice go back to the ancient Greeks. They used to decide on important matters based on the opinions of other people. Of course, they discussed everything that one can imagine. But, its core was to use the collective wisdom to come to some final decision. Ratings and reviews work on the same principle: if so many people like some product or some restaurant, then it must have something appealing in it. This concept–known as social proof–has made the ratings and reviews platform a crucial part of any website. Of course, there is a strong reason why this progression has happened.
Higher star reviews have a much higher volume of purchases. What this means is that the positive nature of ratings and reviews is directly proportional to a positive purchase decision by customers. But why it is the case? What makes people buy when they see positive ratings and reviews? Just like every other business activity’s motive, the answer is hidden in the psychology.
The human mind is conditioned to think in terms of comparison. I like this actor than the other one, I prefer black over red and so on. The same happens when a shopper is browsing e-commerce sites.
The choice on the internet comes down to two basic principles: is product or item A better than product or item B? As online shoppers don’t have the luxury of touching and feeling the product like the shoppers in a physical store, they need a system to foster comparison. Ratings and reviews fill that void by allowing individuals to share their opinions and criticism on websites.
Besides, the five-star rating system makes the comparison much sharper and easier. The viewers don’t just see five stars as a mere visual entity. The scale is also mentally thought of as really bad, bad, neutral, good, and great. This puts the shopper in a better place to put distinctive labels on each star without any effort. It gives an even more granular nature to the comparative analysis of the customers. And once he is convinced about the particular product being “better” than other ones, he is much more likely to decide about purchasing it.
Though the human mind is highly fickle, and what we had liked two years ago may easily become the least favorite thing in the world today, studies suggest otherwise when it comes to reviews. They point out the fact that the impact of the positive reviews would still linger on the minds of customers even if negative reviews are hurled upon them afterward. It somehow adheres to the old adage: the first impression is the last impression.
Brent Coker conducted a study and his main finding proposes that we remain captivated after reading early positive reviews, even if negative reviews come later. He conveyed all the positive facts about one fictional coffee brand and all negative facts about another to the group of seventy-six undergrads. For the former, he informed the group that the company has put green policies in place and for later he said that the company has tried to cover up exploitation of its workers. He also made use of pictures to illustrate the facts.
After some time, he said to the group that unknowingly fact sheets had been wrongly labelled. The positive statements actually applied to other coffee brand and vice versa. But he found that it really didn’t make any difference to the group. The impact of the early positive facts lingered, which led to the enhanced ratings for the brand that was originally misdescribed in glowing terms. The negative communication that was supplied purposely vanished quickly from their minds.
Coker’s study is of tremendous importance as it proved how you can create an indestructibly favorable mindset of customers by supplying positive reviews. It also accentuated the fact that how much trust people keep on reviews. It was an unquestionable testimony to the power of reviews in manipulating the psychological state of the customer.
Various psychologists and behavior scientists have constantly suggested about the human tendency to cling to safety. According to Kahneman & Tversky, people are risk averse in conditions where they expect to gain something, and risk seeking in conditions where they stand to lose something. When people are considering purchases, they are looking to gain something in terms of finding a good product that will deliver multidimensional value and satisfy their needs. That’s precisely why they are equally attentive to the negative information, which they may find in ratings and reviews. It’s an effort to stay away from possible dangers.
Customers try to see how the company measures up before deciding to proceed any further. Through a ratings and reviews platform, they try to understand your strengths and weakness. They also seek answers to questions, like whether there any recurring issues with the brand or its products, how quickly the online retailer responds in case something goes wrong during the buying process or after the buying process, how the seller ships their products, and so on. In short, shoppers want to see the dark side of things too…and hence negative reviews are also important. It’s not at all surprising that eConsultancy reports that 68% of consumers trust reviews more when they see both good and bad scores, while 30% suspect censorship or faked reviews when they don’t see anything negative at all.
What one can read from this is that negative feedback on your ratings and reviews platform makes your website more genuine, real and authentic. And that’s the beauty of ratings and reviews…that even negative reviews are helpful! For more about the benefits of negative reviews, don’t miss this post.
Whether it’s the comparison that your ratings and reviews platform fosters or the authenticity that negative reviews bring to the table, you gain trust. That’s perhaps the most difficult psychological mental block to overcome while acquiring or retaining customers. More or less, your ratings and reviews platform is a collective testimony of various people…and that’s why it has become crucial social proof.