Review writing: Lay off the yelp, Karen.

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Review writing, one star across woman's sweater

It doesn’t matter if we’re debating on what restaurant we go to, if we’re making a big purchase, or if I’m eyeballing that dress on my Amazon wish list for the 100th time. I always read reviews. I don’t just look at the number of stars, but I dissect the previous consumer’s review. What were their complaints? Why did they give a low rating? Does their review sound petty or genuinely concerned? How do their issues with a particular product compare to others? It might take me a while before I commit to purchasing something, and it’s usually because of a bad review.

Common sense is not common

I worked for a grueling seven years in customer service. I know all too well that people are quick to complain and rarely offer praise. This alone can throw off the balance of reviews. For example, I was about to order dinner from my favorite Spanish restaurant when I saw they received a poor review. The restaurant was already one of my favorites, but I still wanted to know who was griping about what. After reading the review, it was clear that this person did not read the menu item descriptions clearly. Because of this person’s mistake, the restaurant’s rating dropped, which could potentially hurt this local business. The crummy review headlined with “Don’t eat here!” and I did the exact opposite. I left a stellar review. What would’ve of happened if I hadn’t known what an excellent establishment it was, though? Would I have ordered anyways or settled for Pizza Hut … again. That is why I dissect reviews. People complain about some of the dumbest things, even if it’s their own fault. So what are some key factors to be on the lookout for when you’re scrolling through reviews?

 Is there a common review denominator?

Take note if multiple reviews are complaining about the same issue. My husband wanted a keypad door lock, so I found myself scrolling through reviews on a hardware store website. First of all, these types of locks are NOT cheap! I found an affordable lock and started reading what people had to say about it. One statement after another claimed the lock failed and resulted in being locked out of their home! Yikes! Hard pass on that one.

 Sort by date

I like to sort by date and only read the most recent feedback. Restaurants have a high turnover, so anything older than a year, I don’t even pay attention to. The same can be applied to some products. A manufacturer might notice a decline in quality based on reviews and change their material or design. This theory can be applied in reverse, as well. Good reviews older than a year don’t apply either, in my opinion. People and products change over time and a crummy product might be staying afloat by old reviews of praise. Our apartment complex is a great example of that. Their four-star rating is being kept afloat by past tenants who apparently loved this shiny turd once upon a time.

 The main review complaint

Finally, I look to see what the main issue is within the review. That complaint about the restaurant was because they didn’t read the items description. If they had, they would’ve known they were ordering an avocado salad and not guacamole. Another review for a dress I purchased online complained that the color was a different shade. If you read the disclaimers, computer or phone screens can change the color in images slightly. One lady complained her ColorfulKoala brand leggings where see-through. This one rogue review made me hesitate, but I bought myself a pair anyways. They ended up being my absolute favorite leggings, hands down. I ordered three more pairs. Perhaps she bought a size too small, and it strained the fabric too much? Either way, determine whether complaints are just being petty or have a valid reason for a low rating.

 Slow to anger, slow to write an angry review

People who become dissatisfied with a product or service are quick to blow off their steam online. Don’t be that person. Allow yourself time to calm down and fully reflect on the situation. I moonlighted at a Chinese restaurant once and understand the stresses of being a server. So when I get a distracted server who forgot my refill or my side salad, I’m not going to bulk about it. Show some grace and only write about the problem…if there really is a problem.

 Spread. The. Love.

I am not saying you shouldn’t leave poor reviews. If a product or service is less than its value, speak up, but be constructive about your criticism. If you have something good to say, SAY IT! Unless you’ve worked in retail, you will never know the power of a good review. Next time you order a fantastic lunch from that deli down the street or an employee helps you at a grocery store, take the time to leave a review. If you purchased an incredible product, leave a detailed review about it. People can spout off all they want on social media about how the world needs more positivity, but it doesn’t matter unless you’re making it personal. I challenge you to leave a positive review or call in a compliment today. You’d be surprised by how much it’ll brighten someone’s day.

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