Even if you’re not familiar with Springsteen’s 1992 hit, I’ll wager you can relate to the fascinating phenomenon of the “paradox of choice”, so-named in psychologist Barry Schwartz’s 2004 book and TED Talk (a riveting watch when you have the time and “57 Channels” has faded out).
Heck, I’ll even bet you my car/plumbing/flooring/water heater/private jet (if I had one…we can’t all live like rock stars) that you have personally experienced becoming more and more stressed as you’re flooded with options.
To be fair, the song is from 1992, and the book and TED Talk are from 2004. It may be many years later right now, but all these insights into the paradox of choice have aged like a fine wine. How so? Well, we still have difficulty choosing which wine of about 200 at the store will make us the happiest.
As Schwartz summarizes best, the human mind often experiences a kind of paralysis when we are given tons of options. I’d argue that while options are dandy, actual and final decisions are terrifying – or at least can be, especially without comforting validation of the final choice. As our options increase exponentially, so does our fear of making the wrong choice.
This is where we really see the mind-blowing power of reviews.
Say you’re shopping at a clothing store recommended by some friends (choice validation #1). You finally choose a cool new shirt after trying on more than you thought humanly possible. The dressing room attendant says he/she also has that shirt (validation #2). You throw on your snazzy new shirt, walk out into the world, and get a compliment (#3)! That compliment is a peer review, and it’s just made your day. “Hey, that’s an awesome shirt” validates the decision that you, the buyer, made.
The same is true of a consumer waffling over what car dealership to visit/what plumber to call/what flooring business to use/whether tankless is the future/what size private jet to buy (again, if only we could all be so lucky), and that’s precisely why shoring up customers’ confidence with plenty of thorough, verified, peer-produced reviews is so imperative when it comes to sparking, then strengthening, business relationships.
At every stage of your customer’s buying process, you want to be a visible presence. Collect and broadcast reviews from customers all across the Web, prove your great service, and don’t be afraid to request more feedback to make customers of any stage feel good about their decisions (learn how to do all of that here). Respond to reviews (both positive and negative) to keep building rapport and assuring customers that, yes, they chose right.
Stand out from the static!