Revolutionary R&D from consumer reviews

Wonderflow Blog

We can summarise our previous post by saying that stores use reviews to sell more and build trust, while brands use them to create marketing campaigns. However I can tell that they’re still not getting the best out of them. Indeed, why on earth don’t brands use reviews to build better products?

Let me give you a short example:

Enterprises make several blind tests, market researches and below-the-line experiments in order to understand what people like and dislike. These kind of activities are very expensive and time consuming, that’s why corporates select a “small” sample of customers for interviews. Thousands of reviews about popular consumer goods are available online, it has no sense not to use them. It’s hard to believe how precise reviewers are in their analysis, and they do it for free.

Here’s a consumer review of the Samsung Galaxy S5, which was left on Amazon.com. This very long review has been split in multiple parts, and analysed to let you understand how valuable this kind of content can be.

Who is the author? Today’s reviewers use to describe themselves and their habits, which by the way is not happening in this review. However you can imagine how important could be for brands to identify their ideal customer.

“First off, I am not a professional reviewer, nor am I employed or compensated by Samsung or any other company. Instead of boring you with facts – which you can find anywhere on the Net – I will just give you some real-world impressions on how it looks, feels, and runs. With that out of the way, let’s get to the point and the nitty gritty, shall we?”

Hardware? Customers are incredibly talented in comparing official product specs (mentioned below as “Facts”) with real performances. Right after iPhone 6 launch (Fall 2014) many experts criticized it because of its old-fashioned specs. Do you remember when Ron Amadeo, director of Ars Technica, compared the iPhone 6 to the 2012’s Nexus 4? It has brought to light that a lot of the upgrades of the phone from Cupertino were already present in the Nexus 4, two years before. Then people started using the iPhone and noticed that it is faster than almost any other device in the market, it has a great camera, superb focusing speed and a fantastic screen. Specs definitely aren’t everything.

“The screen: that is the very first thing you will notice when you look at the S5. Samsung has found its niche with AMOLED screens, which are BRIGHT & SATURATED. Everything almost literally jumps out at you, and sometimes even too much so. I had to switch to the “natural” setting, as the “vivid” and even “standard” profiles are too saturated(and FAKE) for me. It’s better as a demo unit to draw you in, but for everyday use, I recommend switching to the natural profile.”

Specs are often compared with human quality perception.

“Facts: The Galaxy S5 has a 5.1-inch Super AMOLED capacitive touchscreen with Full HD resolution – 1080 x 1920 pixels or ~432 ppi pixel density, plus Gorilla Glass 3 to protect the screen from scratches.”

Hardware again. It’s hard to believe how active this shopper is at telling Samsung what to improve. It’s also great to read how happy he is when he realises that finally this phone has a good camera (customers strongly asked for it in the past).

“The Look: the S5 has a more squared-off edges look than the S4, which is more squared off than the S3, but all three are not as angular as the S2. In terms of roundness-to square-ness, it goes from the S3 – S4 – S5 – S2 (the original S just looks like an iPhone 3GS). Check out my images for an easier comparison. The S5 is the tallest and widest, but not the thickest of the Galaxy S’s. The best thing I can say about this is it’s an evolution. Beauty is subjective, so judge for yourself. The front side is almost the same as any other Galaxy phone: You have the physical Home button, flanked by the “back” and “menu” capacitive buttons. Probably the most improved aspect of the design is in its functionality – it is now dust-proof, and water-proof up to 3 feet!

Facts: The dimensions are 5.59″ x 2.85″ x 0.32″(142cm x 72.5cm x 8.1cm), and weighs 5.11oz(145g).

The Feel: Samsung has taken a lot of flack for making the Galaxy S line so cheap looking and feeling with its plastic bodies, for being the top Android phone maker. HTC has been known to have the best craftsmanship with their all-metal One phones. Perhaps Samsung feel they are so dominant that they don’t have to spend more to mass-produce metal phones, but since they don’t want to come off as too arrogant, so their compromise is a dimpled, faux-rubber backside like the Nexus 7(2012) and its very own Galaxy Note 3. It definitely gives a better feel – it doesn’t slip and slide in your hands or pockets anymore – but it cannot compare to the feel and craftsmanship of the HTC One(both the m7 and m8). It is on the right track though, so let’s hope that rumoured luxury “F” line or next year’s S6 will continue to get better.

How it Runs: This phone is fast, fast, FAST! With a 2.5gHz Snapdragon 801, it has the fastest processor out there right now. It terms of real speed, I cannot say if it is faster than the HTC One m8 or the Sony Xperia Z2, but it is definitely up there. When you touch an app icon to launch it, it launches nearly instantly. To really see how this phone flies, just open the gallery app and scroll through all your photos and you’ll see what I mean. Usually the gallery is where most phones stutter as it tries to load all your photos and albums – but NOT the S5!

The Camera: FINALLY! Samsung has decided to make a decent camera, and not just as an afterthought. This 16mp camera is really awesome, so much better than the S4. I would always get washed out images with my S3/S4/Note 2, but with the S5, it actually looks like it’s from a decent point-and-shoot dedicated camera with crisp, bright, and saturated images. Low-light shooting is also vastly improved, although not as good as the new HTC One m8. 16mp means 5312 x 2988 -resolution images, so you can actually blow them up or crop them down without fearing the dreaded pixelation monster. There are a myriad of other cool and useful camera features that I will save for you to find out(like macro and “Google Street View” modes :]). And lastly, the focus is quick, quick, QUICK! Nearly instantaneous focus allows you to capture those hard-to-capture moments easier. A definitely thumbs up to Samsung for paying attention to the camera and its functions.”

As a startup we’re always looking for testers. It’s often hard to find good ones, and when we have the chance to talk to them, we always try to get as many information as we can. This process is slow and expensive. Brands, instead, have the chance to analyse what customers say about their software. They can do it faster (and cheaper) by analysing content like this.

“Software: I’m still trying to figure out everything, as there is A LOT of stuff under the hood. Samsung’s TouchWiz user interface this time around is A LOT less intrusive though, as much as can be without being totally stock Android, I guess. The layout and iconography are flatter and simpler, and for the better in my view. There is also a new sensor on the back, just beneath the camera lens. It is a heart-rate monitor/pedometer, and it comes with its own health app called S Health. There is a new battery-saving mode which can save you precious minutes when you’re caught in a bind. All in all, I think this version is a lot nicer-looking, more responsive, and better than the precious S phones.”

And above all, is it worth it? Customers are often “yes or no”. In this section people usually mention what companies should do to sell more, like upgrades, comparisons with previous versions, big issues or improvements. The major review sites allow shoppers to up-vote useful comments, which can be a strong validation for brands to trust what customers state.

“The ultimate question is whether this phone is a worthy upgrade over the S4. As my review title suggests, it is an evolution, an incremental upgrade over the S4. So with that said I cannot whole-heartedly recommend it if you already have a good phone, or even over the S4. But I do feel this upgrade is more vast and much better than from the S3 to the S4, so in that sense Samsung has done a much better job this year. If you are switching from an older phone that was made at least 2 years ago, then I would tell you jump right in and try the S5 – it will not disappoint you. But for those with already a good phone, and/or say you just finished year one of your 2-year contract, then I would say think hard before you make the leap. For my money, I think the Note 4 and S6 will be the bigger upgrades more worth waiting for.”

Just by analysing this review Samsung could understand that:

  • The Amoled screen is bright and saturated, however colours may seem “fake” and pumped on a daily use.
  • Design is appreciated, and the water/dustproofing is a step forward.
  • Materials are still “poor” compared to HTC or other top brands. It seems that the S5 is built better than the S4, and Samsung lovers expect a major improvement to happen with upcoming S products (Aka Samsung, please focus on this).
  • Processor (and Speed) is fast, very fast.
  • Camera is good, fast and bright. Resolution is something important for customers, as much as focus speed and night shooting. A big improvement.
  • Software is better than previous S versions.
    The layout and iconography are flatter and simpler.
  • Great to have a “battery-saving” mode.
  • It is worth to buy this S5 only if you have a phone which is at least 2 years old.

It’s incredible to see how many insights you can get from one review only, isn’t it!? Of course one review only is not reliable enough to understand what is good or bad. Automating the aggregation of learnings from reviews is key to get trustable insights and a high accuracy. Indeed, at Wonderflow we analyse thousands of reviews per product. You’ll read more about this topic in upcoming articles.

Therefore we can state that reviews are great for sales and marketing, but are essential for product development and R&D. Customers want to be part of this development process. They want to buy your next product, only if you build it the way they want it.

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