The Web and Comparison
We are all familiar with comparison sites - for insurance, utilities and such - and they can be very useful when comparing absolutes (price being the obvious). But what about subjective issues like 'best hotel' or 'best estate agent'?
Not so helpful, in our opinion. Let us explain why: in over six years of running our own review site (helphound.com) and over two years in managing businesses' online reputations through Dialogue we have been asked again and again 'Why don't you rank businesses against one another?' It's time to publish our answer...
We don't rank businesses because it doesn't work. It doesn't work because...
- Every person's opinion is personal
- Every person's opinion is subjective
- One person's great business is another person's average business
- One person's terrible business is another person's ideal business
Another example: a site that ranks estate agents. Top agent in the UK? Pretty well the same issues - location, services, trusted opinions.
Review sites can add tremendous value for consumers, but what (in our opinion) they shouldn't attempt to do is to compare one business against another. If you doubt this, pick a great business in your area and see how it fares against competitors you know - a hotel for instance. It may come out on top, but often it won't, and it's the same for other sectors.
Reviews are hugely useful - consumer feedback about their experience of a particular business can really help consumers choose (or at least make a short-list), but we don't think they should be used to conjure up a ranking system which will almost certainly be misleading (and potentially harmful to business and consumer alike).