We’re not making it up

We’re not making it up

Rave reviews seem like an unlikely problem for any business, but customers grateful for a good night’s sleep have created a dilemma for Novosbed.com, an Edmonton-based company that sells mattresses online. A virtual tsunami of positive reviews over the past year is straining the company’s credibility.

Sure, CEO and co-founder Sam Prochazka wants purchasers to say how much they love the high-quality, memory foam mattresses Novosbed.com manufactures and sells directly to its customers. Great reviews drive traffic to their website and are often the tipping point in a buyer’s decision, so they’re key to selling online.

However, “since we achieve a 10-out-of-10 rating on ResellerRatings.com, we’ve also noted a 300 per cent increase in customers asking us whether our reviews are authentic,” Prochazka says. “The main criticism is that the reviews are all too ‘positive’ to be completely trustworthy.”

Of course, he says it’s no accident that reviews are excellent. He works extremely hard to provide customers with great products and service, but it doesn’t help that most reviewers wish to remain relatively anonymous. Prochazka says the amount of information they disclose is entirely up to them, as long as they have a valid purchase ID – making authentic testimonials look a bit sketchy.

A growing distrust of consumer reviews in general adds further concern – about 20 per cent of online reviews are bogus, according to a recent Harvard Business School study – but, so far, Prochazka says the impact on sales has been hard to measure. However, any doubt could damage the brand.

What can the company do to make sure people know the reviews are real and the business is legit?

SUNIL MISTRY

PARTNER, KPMG ENTERPRISE

If he can get even a tiny percentage of customers willing to do a testimonial on video and upload it onto his website, it would add extra assurance that they’re real people in real homes. Anyone buying a mattress online is likely social media savvy so they might think that it would be fun to do. He could probably turn it into some kind of marketing campaign or giveaway contest. There’s a ton of different marketing angles you could use there.

Producing his own YouTube video could go a long way in showing potential customers how their mattresses are superior – and not just because people say so. Perhaps he could do a video where they slice a mattress apart so you see what’s inside. That would help people understand what the difference is between their mattresses and, say, two other competitors’ mattresses.

BRIAN MISKE

CHIEF MARKETING OFFICER, KPMG LLP

Sam could take advantage of the good reviews and engage in a dialogue with those customers by asking questions such as, ‘If there was one thing we could improve on in the product or service, what it would be?’ Right now, it’s only one way. The consumer fills out the review and the conversation stops there.

Also, the reviews posted online don’t actually give a lot of information and tend to be from new purchasers. He could ask customers who previously purchased a mattress for feedback on how the product ages. Sleep is an important part of your overall mental and physical health, so they should also think about creating alliances with, say, the Better Sleep Council Canada or similar U.S. associations. This is where the company could really start to shape the brand beyond the product.

- Diane Jermyn / Photography by Ashley Champagne / Illustrations by Chelsea Robinson