Sunday 13 January 2019

Purplebricks adopts a second reviews solution - why?

Purplebricks' latest TV advertisement - it references their Feefo score at the end...

The ongoing saga of Purplebricks and reviews continues. Regular readers will be familiar with the 'story so far' (those of you new to our blog can catch up here); in short: Purplebricks used Trustpilot and then announced - back in December 2017, that they were changing to Feefo. Now we understand that they will be continuing with Trustpilot and also using Feefo. To reiterate the question in the title of this article: 'why?'

To attempt to answer this question (feel free to comment, anyone from Purplebricks, Trustpilot or Feefo, or indeed anyone else who thinks they may be able to shed light on this intriguing situation) we will examine the available facts and attempt to draw some conclusions that will be relevant for businesses struggling to decide on the right reviews solution.

Purplebricks and Trustpilot

The facts:

  • Purplebricks have over 57,000 reviews on Trustpilot, and they break down as follows...

  • Trustpilot is an 'open' review site, that means that anyone can write a review at any time
  • Purplebricks are - as at today's date - still 'collecting' (see top right of the first screenshot), in other words 'inviting', customers to write reviews to Trustpilot. Indeed, twenty-eight reviews have been posted there in the last twenty-four hours alone

Purplebricks and Feefo

The facts:

  • Feefo is a 'closed' site, meaning that a customer needs to be invited to post a review 
  • There have been two reviews written to Feefo in the past twenty-four hours
So much for the facts. Now to the questions...
  1. Why use two reviews sites?
  2. Why so many more reviews to Trustpilot than to Feefo?
  3. Why not use Google?
Which we will attempt to answer...

1.  Why use two reviews sites?

We can only assume that 'testing' continues. Maybe one day Purplebricks will decide on one or the other, we will monitor the situation. 

Our comment: As regular readers will know, at HelpHound we believe that systems designed for online retail, where transactions tend to be in the tens or hundreds of pounds at most, are not sophisticated enough for services where hundreds of thousands of pounds are at stake in every transaction. We firmly believe that high-value businesses such as estate agency (and financial services, wealth management, legal and medical services, and so on) owe it to all their stakeholders - especially their customers - to invest in proper professional review management (which, ironically, need not necessarily cost a penny more).

2.  Why so many more reviews to Trustpilot?

Purplebricks told Property Industry Eye that they have been 'live' with Feefo for some months. According to their listing on Feefo the first review was posted there seven months ago. One might expect some time would be taken to integrate a new system across the business, but the flow has been fairly even since day one.

Our comment: it would appear that Purplebricks staff may currently choose which solution to use to invite their customers to post a review. What we do know is that they are still overwhelmingly choosing Trustpilot for this purpose but are referencing Feefo in their marketing. If you were working at Purplebricks, which route would you choose for your 'happiest' customers?

The most significant side-effect...

What we can say, beyond a shadow of doubt, is that using a reviews site is harming their image where everyone is looking, on Google...

No amount of positive reviews on any reviews site will counteract an image like this on Google. Why? Because anyone seeing a business that looks like this on Google - and reading the content of the overwhelmingly negative reviews - is going to bother taking the next step (reading the reviews on the reviews site).

It's called 'deflection' -  and there's a whole article devoted to it here. But, in essence, it's very simple - your happy customers write reviews to the place you ask them to, your unhappy customers write to Google. And unless your marketing and review management strategy takes that vital point on board then your business will suffer.

3.  CMA compliance issues

The CMA regulations exist to ensure that consumers are not misled by businesses manipulating reviews. The full regulations - and our analysis of them - are linked to under 'Further reading' below, but suffice to say that there is a really easy litmus test: ask yourself 'does the reviews solution we have adopted/have under consideration give us any advantages over the consumer - can we challenge, control, delay or otherwise influence the publication of our customer's review?' And that includes having an 'invitation only' system. If the answer is yes - your business is non-compliant.

Oh! And before any of you get the idea that selectively inviting customers to post to Google is a good idea ('cherry-picking' the regulators call it) please read the last paragraph of that 'deflection' article very carefully...

Further reading...

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