Intro to Social Proof: How to set up a customer review system

Part II of our Social Proof series covers how to set up the best customer review system possible for your commerce site.

Reviews are a crucial part of any online selling ecosystem. Consumers trust reviews 88% as much as personal recommendations, which is a huge number! Reviews can also increase your conversion rate from anywhere between 14%–76%. What’s not to love?

Reviews add a layer of authenticity and candor that your copywriter and marketing team can’t create on their own.

As appealing as reviews sound for your business, there are ways you can design and display them that will maximize your conversions. Here’s a list of do’s (and don’ts) for the best customer review system possible.


Do: show as many reviews as possible

Glossier shows it has nothing to hide by featuring the most liked positive AND negative reviews.

It may be tempting to hide away bad reviews, but customers will sniff this out and feel cheated if they see you are making an effort to promote the good and hide the bad. You will seem much more authentic if you keep the bad reviews available along with the good.

When you’ve amassed a large quantity of reviews, it also signifies a popular product, which can persuade others that this item is a good investment for their money.


Do: read your reviews

It’s tempting to set up your system, ask for a few reviews, and be on your merry way to a higher conversion rate. But this direct (and public!) feedback is valuable, and take time to read through your reviews often.

If your reviews are primarily great, congratulations! It’s not time to stop yet, however. Take a look through your reviews and try to find the common elements that people love so that you can implement them in future products and highlight them in your brand messaging.

If your bad reviews outnumber your good, it’s past time to take a look at why people have a problem with your product and address the feedback. This feedback is a blessing, as people are willing to tell you to your face what they would like to change!


Do: keep the rating system simple

Zappos shows a simple rating system – up to five stars, categories, a written comment, and a graph to show if shoes run true to size.

There are two kinds of feedback: qualitative (verbal and written from an emotional perspective) and quantitative (numbers and percentages). For example, the written comment-style review is qualitative, while the 5 star system or a system of “likes” is quantitative.

It’s crucial to include both systems so that you can present both ways of thinking on your website. Keep things simple and don’t reinvent the wheel when it comes to a star rating system, and leave it at 5 stars. A 4+ star rating on a product is a huge endorsement of trust that customers understand immediately.


Do: say thank you when you get a good review

You might think it looks kind of silly to reply to every review with a short “thanks!”, but your attention to your customers will shine through and make you seem less like a faceless online store.

Treat yourself to reading your nice reviews and writing little letters to them so that you can encourage more positivity and demonstrate how much you care to your current and potential customers. Who doesn’t enjoy a personalized letter from a founder?


Do: respond to your reviews with a clear head

Sometimes customers are angry, and they might leave an insulting message for you in a public space. Keep a cool head, as you are representing your brand every time you publish a piece of public communication, and respond with a graceful and professional apology and inquiry to every one.

It’s pretty simple and straightforward to respond maturely and professionally, and you may end up converting the angry customer and anyone else who sees how well you handled the criticism.


Do: ask for a little more information to give your reviews context

Lululemon asks for enough information to give the review relevance but not make a customer feel uncomfortable

A little bit of personalization on reviews goes a long way to convincing your customers that these are real people buying your and not fake reviews.

A simple first name and last initial is all you need, don’t show a full name for the sake of protecting your customer’s privacy. If it’s relevant, include a city and state or country, such as when selling items that are relevant to a location like beachwear or skiwear.

Don’t: give away free stuff to try to sway bad reviews

There are people out there who leave angry reviews to try and get free stuff. Don’t be suckered. Respond to bad reviews publicly to see what went wrong to try and get to the bottom of the problem, and bring the conversation private once you have an idea of how to rectify the problem one-on-one with a customer. A screenshot of an email can give away everything about your business, so always keep things professional.


Don’t: buy fake reviews. Ever

Customers can detect with surprising accuracy when reviews are fake. Don’t do it.


Don’t: leave your reviews unorganized

Glossier offers categories for customer reviews so that other customers can see if the products have been reviewed by people with their skintype.

Customers want to see reviews that are relevant to them. You can gently ask for a little more information so that your customers can sort reviews for themselves to find the reviews with the most relevant context.

For example, Glossier has reviews sorted by skin type, a highly relevant category to their makeup and skincare products. Someone with oily or dry skin can see whether or not a particular product works well for their skin type before committing to a purchase.


Don’t: be afraid of a negative response

The conversion power of reviews is extremely persuasive to potential customers. Don’t be scared about implementing a review system by the prospect of a few bad eggs.

You can facilitate good reviews by targeting your loyal customers and asking them directly for reviews. There are so many ways to do this, and we believe you should test as many as possible to see what works for your business.

We’ll go over how to ask for reviews politely and effectively in our next post in the Social Proof series. See you next time!