Whether you’re an e-commerce merchant or an online shopper, you probably weren’t aware that there are two different kinds of reviews that are collected online.
One of them is potentially hurting your business, and the other is giving potential customers an honest, accurate perception of your company or products. These two types of reviews are called active and passive reviews.
Passive reviews are reviews that can be submitted by anyone, many times, without confirmation of a purchase or verified use of a product, service, or even the company. An individual posting a passive review also doesn’t have to publicly display who they are, so it’s much easier for an angry customer (or even a competitor) to leave negative reviews about your business with little consequence to their image, but potentially fatal consequences to yours. Websites like Trust Pilot and Yelp collect passive reviews. While this allows legitimate customers a place to give their feedback on a company, it also opens a company up to fake reviews or mostly negative reviews.
Active reviews on the other hand, are reviews that the company is actively asking all of its customers for. Not only do active reviews confirm that the reviewer has had some sort of experience with the company or product, but they invite customers with both positive and negative experiences to share their feedback. There is a proven correlation between a higher number of real reviews collected and a better star-rating.
Why does this matter?
1. Passive Reviews are Negatively Skewed
How often do we go out of our way to leave a positive review after a good experience? Not often. But how often do we leave a bad review after a negative incident? It’s in our nature to share our bad experiences with anyone that cares to listen, and the Internet seems to care.
Passive reviews are a great way to vent our anger about a company to the world, with few of the positive customer experiences the company has provided being shared to balance the negative ones. It just isn’t giving the full picture. That isn’t to say that the bad experience shouldn’t be shared or is a lie, it just gives a false perception of the company if it’s primarily negative reviews being shared or displayed.
If your company is being plagued by negative reviews, check out our guide here to managing them!
2. Passive Reviews can be Fraudulent
Small businesses can be destroyed by malicious competitors that go onto websites that collect passive reviews and attack their competition with fraudulent reviews. While this is illegal, it’s not always easy to prove. Passive review sites also open companies up to inaccurate reviews posted by disgruntled former employees, jealous competitors, people leaving a review for the wrong company (yes, it happens), and people we call “review warriors” who simply like to leave negative feedback on companies as a practical joke. Not that funny, right?
3. Active Reviews are Accurate
It’s just not possible for a company to be perfect, but can a company with only 5 reviews and a 1.4 star-rating accurately be perceived as an awful company? This is typically the case when passive reviews are collected. Few reviews compared to the number of customers the company has actually had are collected, and again, tend to be negatively skewed.
When active reviews are collected, the average star-rating tends to be higher and much more accurate, because all customers are equally invited to share their experience.
Shopper Approved is one of the few rating companies that only collects active reviews. From a moral standpoint, it’s the only option. When it comes down to it, passive reviews just aren’t giving the full picture of a company’s true reputation and the experience they provide to their customers. And the potential for deceitful reviews can cause a lot of damage to a company’s online reputation and bottom line, which just isn’t worth it to us.
When looking at reviews online, keep these tips in mind:
- If the company has a large number ratings that are mostly positive, from a reliable 3rd party review source, then they are likely active reviews and provide the most accurate picture of the company.
- If the company has a small number of ratings that are mostly negative, then they are likely passive reviews and provide the least accurate picture of the company.
Make sure your company is collecting active reviews to give potential customers the most accurate, honest representation of your company! Like it or not, perception is reality in business, and your star rating online can be the deciding factor as to whether consumers will buy from you or your competitor.