When buying new stuff, you as customer go to the emotion roller coaster of change. Let’s take a look what’s the effect on user reviews and how you can use it for your organisation.
We talked a lot about change and resistance on this blog and, of course, its correlation. There’s an old saying “The only one that likes change is a wet baby”, but we know that this isn’t correct. People change all the time: new work, new friends, new home, new city, etc. We can agree that there’s resistance to the change when the change isn’t welcomed by the ones that undergo it. In most cases when people don’t want to change, it’s a case of bad or not enough communication.
On the other hand, there are changes that we choose for ourselves. Think of, among others, buying a new smart phone or a new car. In those (and many other) examples we are free to choose to stay or to change. To keep our device or decide to use the new one. When we choose for a new device we still go through the same acceptance period as an unwanted change, only the lows won’t be that low.
As example, let’s zoom in on buying a new car. After careful selection between different models you decide to invest a large amount. You may even have to take a consumer credit for it. The tension builds up while waiting some weeks, maybe months for your new purchase. The first days will be great. No, they will be amazing. The car is better that your old car and drives very smooth. If you would write a review (eg. on a website) at this point, it would be good to great. Your judgement is clouded by the ‘buyers high’.
After a while you start experiencing the negative parts: the seating is not as you expected, the dead angle is not good visible and the door list blocks your side in the turns. You wonder how did you miss this while testing. If you would write a review at this point, it would be bad. Your review would highlight the negative parts and lacks objectivity.
Once you went completely through this acceptation curve some time has passed and as a not-so-new-anymore owner you’re quite reluctant to putting effort in writing an old review.
So you may start to wonder how you as an organisation can use this emotional roller coaster in your advantage. It seems like there isn’t any time suited for an objective review (in the way that a subjective review can be objective). As a potential customer you are also confronted with this. Dependent of at which point the reviewer was on his acceptance curve, the review will be dominated by his current feelings. So you cannot use the review to make your decision. Only if you’re aware of it you can see the extremes are documented, the highs and the lows. As a test, open any user review section of an online smart phone shop and browse to the reviews.
A Dutch car website, Autoweek.nl, has found a nice solution for this. On their website new car owners can create an online diary and document their experiences with their newly bought car. The user can add reviews to his online car diary when he wants and the reviews are sorted by mileage. Because of the diary speaks to the user’s intrinsic motivation, it’s kept up to date in many cases. The diary gives an overview of the highs and lows of the user experience and sometimes also covers exceptional cases that are not covered in a one-time review after buying. For example, a long trip to Austria in wintertime.
Further, other users can react on the reviews in a separate comment section too and they can rate the diary.
An example of such a diary can be found here: http://www.autoweek.nl/autoreview/35177/bmw-118d-business-line
When buying a car these diaries are thé source for getting your honest and balanced user reviews. Give it a try!