The Online Review Iceberg – Why the posting of a review is just the tip of the iceberg

Potentially the use of an iceberg is a tired cliché when it comes to business. However, in the case of online reviews it is a pretty accurate analogy. This is because a review is the visible, tangible result of a lot of time, and effort spent on things that aren’t necessarily visible.

Note that I said necessarily visible there; because, in a world of social customer service, and social media in general it is now possible to see some of the building blocks that lead to the creation of a review.

Online reviews are the end product of an entire process The size of the iceberg (aka, the process) depends on the company in question, there is no set size. However, there are a number of key threads that constantly show up in reviews posted by customers. Therefore, in this post I’ll show you some examples of common factors that affect the posting of online reviews, so you can be aware of some of the ways in which customers judge you! After all according to research by Pew Research Center: Around one-in-ten Americans nearly always post their own reviews of products, services and restaurants (//

What is beneath the surface of the online review iceberg?

Customer Care

Customer Service is incredibly important. I see numerous negative (or less than 5* reviews left) online reviews about companies simply because of a lapse in customer care. In most cases as well a lot of them look pretty simple fixes (some will be a lot more complex), something as simple as manners or taking a long time to reply to emails/calls.

Online reviews will help you identify these issues, and for a little bit of short-term pain, you get a lot of long-term gain.

An ever growing aspect of customer care is on Social Media platforms. For the best information and advice on this is refer you to Dan Gingiss, author of the book ‘Winning at Social Customer Care’.

If you can nail social customer care, in any shape or sized business, then you are going to generate a whole host of positive reviews!

Shipping (eCommerce)

If you’ve ever bought a product online, you probably need it for something. Be it a date, a birthday, or an event. If a company promises to ship it by a certain date, you expect it to be done. If they say you should get your order by a certain date, then that’s what you should expect.

If an eCommerce company is constantly missing their shipping dates, that will annoy customers, and it is fair to say that eCommerce companies that are poor at delivery suffer as a result in their reviews. Customers don’t expect miracles, but if they need a product by a certain day or time and your website says you can deliver, but you fail to that’s a sure fire way of getting a one or two star review.

Therefore, you have a few options. Improve your shipping times, get a new courier, or spend more time getting parcels out of the door. If those aren’t possible, then consider reducing your customers expectations. By that, I mean instead of saying ships in 1-2 days, say ships in 2-3 days.

That way you give yourself some breathing space, and your customers are more likely to be impressed if you can dispatch the items earlier.

For eCommerce companies shipping times are a big deal, so really focus on improving those, or changing expectations to generate more positive reviews.

Everything as described

There is nothing more annoying for customers than expecting something, and getting something completely different. This is applicable for most businesses from web designers and accountants to eCommerce shops and mobile phone providers.

If people are spending their hard earned cash on something they want to know they are going to get what they paid for, and if they don’t you can bet that they’ll write a review or complain about you somewhere online.

In research by Marketing Profs, they find that: we now see more and more consumers sharing their own brand insights and product experiences. To help fellow consumers get a better sense of what to expect when considering anything from a new pair of running shoes to the latest flat-screen TV model, creating an online review becomes a natural part of the consumer experience. 

This demonstrates that customers want to help other people, therefore, if they order something online, and it’s not right, they will review it to let others know! We now live in that world.

Get those descriptions/images/brochures right, and you’ll see the number of negative reviews fall at the same rate the positive ones are generated!

Going the extra mile

If you read lots of reviews (like I do) you’ll notice that a good number mention things like the ‘the waiter went over and above’ or ‘the hotel did everything they could to make our stay as pleasant as possible’

YES, this is what we are talking about! It’s the little things that make the difference between a 4 or a 5 star review, or make this difference between you and a competitor.

We you as an individual or a company put loads of effort in you will be rewarded. You will never please 100% pf the people 100% of the time, but that shouldn’t stop you trying.

People do business with people. Be human, be sincere, put in effort, and the positive reviews will back you up!


The longer it takes for a person to reach their desired goal the less positive the review is likely to be.

Time is of the essence for a lot of people, and businesses. If a job takes longer than expected then in all likelihood, you will lose a star or two off your review. That doesn’t mean rush a job though. It means set expectations at a level you know you can match, or beat.

Time is a precious commodity, and people don’t like to feel that their time is being wasted. So, waste their time at your peril!

What else would you include in the iceberg?

There are loads of factors that come together to make up reviews. Sometimes a review can be formed from just a single factor, other reviews can be based upon a multitude of factors.

Which factors do you find most important in the generation of online reviews, both positive or negative?