|visual from Olery|
Reviews are trusted. All recent research points to this. But should they be? The answer to this bears some detailed examination; on both sides of the fence: those who write the reviews and those who publish the reviews. We'll take hotels as an example (everything holds good for other kinds of businesses)...
Who writes the reviews?
We dealt with behaviour here, so today we'll simply focus on the numbers. Very few guests ever write a review of any kind - it varies between one in 700 to one in 1500. So, when a potential guest looks at the reviews (or simply the score/ranking) they are taking the opinion of a tiny minority, and that tiny minority are too often from the polar ends of the experience - very happy or very unhappy.
What about the review sites?
They all 'play the numbers game'. The web is a huge help to them here - a page of reviews may contain only 10 customer opinions, but, because it fills the screen, it looks authoritative (imagine a hotel showed you its guest book and there was only one entry a month). They make much of the total number of reviews, but they helpfully grey out the dates so as not to draw attention to the fact that a 100 bed hotel may only get one review a week (one from maybe 500 guests).
Note: scrolling technology - where a web page can be of infinite length - has been around for years, so why isn't it used? The conclusion we might reasonably arrive at is: because they don't want to make it easy for their users to see past the 'first ten reviews'.
And moderation - why don't they moderate their reviews? (OK, some claim to have sophisticated 'algorithms' and technology which will 'identify fake/rogue reviews' - we have human moderators, and we would be sure to replace them with software if it came even close to working).
How about verifying their users? Oh no - that would be a violation of their freedom of speech (or freedom of something, anyway).
So what are we left with? Unmoderated reviews written by a tiny minority of unverified reviewers who are polarised in their opinions. And people like this dedicated user of a well-known review site...
|Are we the only ones who think he might have done just as well blindfolded with a pin?|
- Verify the reviewer - make sure they are a real customer of the business being reviewed
- Moderate the reviews - so everyone really benefits from the final published review
- Have a system that gets the 'silent majority' to write reviews - by promising to publish everything, and having an independent agency operating the system
Then the consumers gets...
- Real reviews they can trust
- From a statistically meaningful sample of your customers
And you get...
- Customers with an accurate and reliable perception of the service you provide