Ratings and reviews have become a standard component of modern digital commerce, a powerful way to drive consumers to purchase. In fact, a customer research study carried out by Feefo revealed that 74% of consumers are, to some extent, influenced by customer reviews.

But what about the bad reviews? The risk of bad reviews should not force retailers and brands to reconsider giving customers a voice altogether.

There has understandably always been a degree of skepticism over the validity of customer reviews. Who’s really writing them? Are brands censoring the negative ones? While these are perfectly valid questions, the way customer feedback is solicited can help to answer such questions.

Fundamentally, there are two different review platforms; open and invite-only. While open platforms can be subject to fake reviews, invite-only reviews do exactly what they say – invite customers who have made a purchase to leave a review. For customers, knowing that every single review is verified boosts consumer confidence and trust within that brand and their product offering.

Customer reviews help to facilitate SEO and the volume of inbound organic traffic by improving bounce rates and ensuring fresh page content – both key ranking factors. Additionally, reviews can appear as stars within organic listings and as Seller Ratings within AdWords campaigns. The result?  A 17% average increase in Click Through Rate (CTR).

The addition of multimedia reviews like pictures and videos can further increase organic traffic. In fact, the probability of video content ranking on the first page of Google is 50% higher than that of textual content, according to Forrester.

The checkout should not be the point at which you wave goodbye to your customers. It’s only the beginning of a relationship. Keeping your customers engaged with your brand after they have made a purchase extends the customer journey and gives you more opportunities to learn their behavior. Offering your customers the opportunity to leave a review is a quick and easy way for them to share what makes them tick (or even click).

Embrace the negatives

Don’t be afraid of negative feedback. Instead, use it as an opportunity to learn and improve. After all, if all you hear are accolades, you’d be lulled into the false perception that nothing needs improving. All feedback provides valuable business insights that you can use to enhance not only your products and services, but also your customer service and the way you handle reviews. Negative reviews are not going to disappear. You should leave behind any defensive instincts and reply to unhappy customers as soon as possible with politeness and empathy.

According to the National Association of Retail Marketing Services, 95% of unhappy customer will return if their problem was dealt with quickly and efficiently. Therefore, a negative review is not always the end of the line.

So, if you’re collecting and displaying customer reviews (and you should be) be sure to celebrate the positives and embrace the negatives.