Reviewification is the phenomenon that customer reviews are all around us and therefore have a huge impact on consumer decisions. What are the risks? And what can you do to adapt to this new situation?

Did you see the Black Mirror episode “Nosedive”? It is about a world in which all business transactions and all interactions with others are rated, resulting in a public score for each person. Lacie Pound (a great performance by Bryce Dallas Howard) tries very hard to get good ratings, but due to a series of circumstances her score goes into a free fall, and she almost loses everything in her life.

As with most episodes, this Black Mirror installment can be seen as a warning: bad ratings in the digital world affect the “real world” enormously.

What Is Reviewification?

At RevelX, we call this trend “reviewification.” This concept can be described as the phenomenon that customer reviews are omnipresent and therefore have a huge impact on consumer decisions.

Why do customers base their decisions on reviews? Psychologist Robert Cialdini’s classic book Influence may give us an answer. “Social proof” is one of the methods to persuade customers that he described: if other people like it, it must be a good product.

In the travel industry, is a company that applies the principle of social proof excellently. Reviews on their website are segmented into different target groups, such as families with young children, young couples etc. According to Cialdini, we tend to follow the example of people who are most like us.

The Pitfalls of Reviewification

Reviews can lead to a more transparent and therefore efficient and honest world. There are some potential problems though. Being an avid Black Mirror watcher, I want to describe some worst-case scenarios with the goal of averting these situations:

  • Internet trolls band together and write fake reviews in great numbers in order to destroy a business. Sadly, Yelp reviews have already been transformed into a tool of political harassment in the United States.
  • Customers ask for preferential treatment because otherwise, they will write a bad review. If you want to see how this scenario can play out, please watch the South Park episode “You’re Not Yelping”.
  • A small group of dissatisfied customers flood a business with negative ratings on complaint sites and social media; more and more customers start to mistrust the company and it ends up in a free fall.

The Advantages of Reviewification

But reviewification can also turn out very well for a company:

  • Customers who are satisfied, will tell others about it. This will attract new customers, who will also act as ambassadors.
  • Do you have a competitor who had success for years only through aggressive advertising campaigns or deals with intermediaries? In this new, transparent world, only your value to the customer counts.
  • Companies are also customers at other businesses. The chance of getting a bad deal or even being scammed is much smaller due to “reviewification.”

Next Steps

Reviewification is one of the key factors in changing customer behavior. To adapt to this new reality, you should take some steps:

  1. Do not just focus only on sales, but optimize each phase in the customer journey.
  2. Take complaints seriously – and solve them!
  3. Monitor review sites, social media and the rest of the internet; intervene when it is possible and sensible.

I am curious about your experiences with customer reviews and ratings. Please share your stories, by contacting me or as a comment under this article.