Do you ever feel like you’re shouting into the void?
Election season just ended. No matter who you are or who you supported, you probably feel like nobody was listening to you for the last few months.
When you think about it, Twitter is just a bunch of people talking to themselves in the hopes that other people will overhear and repeat it. And anyone with a Facebook has seen a few arguments where it looked more like two walls shouting at each other. Maybe you’ve even been one of those walls.
Maybe you’re on the younger side at your office and feel ignored. Maybe you’re an educator and repeating yourself is part of the job. Maybe you’re in customer service, maybe you’re a parent—I’m not sure which of those two gets ignored more frequently on a daily basis.
It’s draining to feel like nobody cares what you have to say.
But what if I told you that there is a place where your voice really matters? What if I told you that there are people who would go to great lengths to hear your opinion, who desperately want to know what you think?
It’s much easier than you think. Have you used a software product lately? Have you used a learning management system? Maybe some survey software? If you’ve used it, you count. And, odds are, you use quite a bit of software in your daily work life.
All you need to do is find the software you used on a site (like Capterra, conveniently) and write a review on their page. It’s that simple, and it has more impact than you realize.
Is that all there is to it?
Yes and no. Any review will mean something to the software vendor, but there are things you can do that give it more punch.
Steps to a better review:
1. Give it a rating
Rating the product on a five-star scaling system is a great way to show other people (and the company itself) how you felt about the product at a glance. An estimated 65% of the population think in pictures, so providing images along with text for your review (even if all you’re doing is clicking on a star to produce that image) is super helpful.
2. Tell them who you are
Who you are is almost as important as how you feel about the product itself. Who you are, what your job is, how you’re interacting with the software says a lot. For instance, a product might be great for educators and terrible for course designers, and without an explanation from those reviewing, it might be difficult for people to make that connection.
3. Explain pros and cons
You don’t have to be glowing. In fact, if you’re upset about a product’s performance, that’s important! You should talk about it, publically, to help people from making the same mistake, and to let the manufacturer know that there’s an issue.
If you don’t feel strongly about a software, don’t let that stop you from reviewing, either. Since most people only review if they really love or really hate something, having a few even-keeled reviews means more.
4. Be specific
We know how you use the product, but how frequently? We know you like it, but why? We know you hate a feature, but which feature and why? Does it ruin your whole experience, or is it manageable? The more precise you are, the more other people will get out of your review.
Customers find that the most helpful reviews are those that mostly like a product, but note one or two specific issues they have with it.
Is reviewing software really that helpful?
Firstly, reviews are helpful to other customers and users like you. When you go looking for a product on Amazon, do you just buy the first good-looking thing you see? Or do you scroll down, read a few reviews, and try to make judgement calls based on what people have to say? When you’re going on a trip, do you get a flight and just wing it, or do you go to TripAdvisor and see what people suggest (or warn)?
As it turns out, people trust online reviews almost as much as they trust personal recommendations. After all, reviews are one of those pay-it-forward sorts of things, and reviewers feel trustworthy because they’re only reviewing out of their own goodness and a desire to be helpful to other people.
Secondly, reviews are helpful to businesses. When they’re good reviews, they encourage new customers to try their software and attract new customers. More people talking about a product improves search engine ranking, which is always a good thing, because trying to get a good Google ranking is the finest example of screaming into the void.
Getting reviews is a hot business, and of huge interest to companies. How much interest? There are entire academic papers on what makes a good review, and how to get the best reviews possible.
Businesses are so desperate, so hungry for people to review their goods and services, that some will even pay consumers to write reviews for them. They’ll bribe them with rebates and free stuff, just to get reviews on the page.
This problem has become bad enough that Amazon recently banned incentivized reviews. Yikes.
And the most interesting part is that those businesses weren’t just paying for phony good reviews. They were paying for bad reviews, too. A bad review (when it’s real, at least) is just as important as a good one, if not more so. Not just to the company, but to the customer.
If you have an issue with a product, odds are the company has no idea. After all, they have hundreds or thousands of people using their software every day, but may only receive a trickle of reviews or feedback. The very best companies will see a bad review as a call to action. They’ll not only read it and respond, they may contact the specific user to get to the root of the problem. In some cases, the company might overhaul the product to better fit the needs of their customers. The best products are always improving, and want to grow with their users.
You also stand to learn something. If you’re having an issue, odds are, other people are having that issue, too. Perhaps the company does know about it and may even be working on a fix, but in the meantime, they have solutions for you. You never know when the solution you’ve been waiting for is really just clicking a box in a nondescript setting menu.
That’s why software vendors care so much what you think. They want to know if you like what they’re doing, they want to know if you’d recommend their product. They need to know your favorite aspects of their software so that they don’t take it away in an update. If you don’t love it, they want to know what they’re doing wrong so they can fix it and make it better. This gives you the ability to directly impact the product being sold.
Bit of a revelation? Yeah, I thought so, too. I never reviewed anything before learning all this, and now that I know, I’ll bookmark the pages of products I buy so I can go back and tell them what I thought later on. It’s five minutes from me that makes a huge different to them and, hey, I like being nice.
Want to help, too?
It’s easy to get started. Have you used a software recently? Even if you’re trying to find a better one, it’s best practices to let the old software know why you’re switching.
Click here, type in a software you’ve used, and take five minutes to tell them how you really felt. It means the world to them.