Wednesday, 24 April 2019

Reviews websites reviewed - some worrying results


Here we are going to take as dispassionate look at reviews websites as we can. This article forms the third part of our recent series of pieces aimed at driving reform of the reviews market in the UK - links to the other two articles can be found at the end of this piece.

Trustpilot: On Google...


Consists of….

5*        5
4*        2
3*        -
2*        -
1*        44

Further analysis…

The 5* reviews:

One of another business altogether...



One extremely tongue-in-cheek – we are assuming!



Now Trustpilot are immigration consultants!


 Next: ratings – not reviews – we would question their worth.



The first of these 4* reviews is from someone that wants a job with Trustpilot (only four stars?).



The second would appear to be for some kind of ‘technical service’, possibly another review of a Trustpilot client posted in error.

The remainder are all one star reviews, mostly conveying the same sentiments...



On their own site, where you might expect to make more sense...





Seriously? If nearly a quarter of your reviews rated your business 'poor' or 'bad' – on your own platform - would you begin to worry?

You don’t have to look far for reviews like this…




Now: on Reviews.io (a rival platform):

A Google search on ‘reviews of Trustpilot’ returns this…


 So we click through, to find this…





Then we close the pop-up warning, to see this…




Followed by a breakdown…



That shows that less than ten per cent of reviews rate Trustpilot at five stars.

So we read some of the five star reviews that have apparently – according to Reviews.io – been ‘written by Trustpilot employees’. Here are the most recent examples of five star reviews of Trustpilot on Reviews.io…






Forgive us, but they don’t look like Trustpilot employees’ reviews. They look like genuine reviews of other businesses that have been mistakenly left on Trustpilot’s listing.

So – becoming increasingly mystified – we check for reviews of Reviews.io on Trustpilot (a very much larger site) and what do we find?





Not so many reviews, but a similarly awful rating.  To be fair, we conducted the same Google search as we did for Trustpilot. Reviews.io don’t appear to have a Google knowledge panel but their ‘alter ego’ Reviews.co.uk does, and here are all five reviews contained within it…



And here is what the search for ‘reviews of Reviews.io’ throws up…


Now some of you were thinking ‘they’ve forgotten Feefo. So here they are. In a Google search:



No reviews on Google, when even the smallest plumber in the UK has a handful? Maybe Feefo is small too? Let’s see what they have on their own site…




622 reviews, mostly 5*, and not one of their happy customers found their way to Google? Feefo on Trustpilot?




And on Reviews.io?




In summary

You are probably as confused as we are by now. If you think you understand what is happening here please don’t hesitate to contact us – there’s a box below.

But much more important - what about consumers (and, in this instance consumers means businesses and their customers, because the business is the consumer when it buys the services of one of these reviews sites).

Our conclusion

The first question we ask ourselves – and anyone else we meet in our professional lives – is ‘Why not Google?’ Google reviews are by-far-and-away the most visible and most credible reviews on the web. They are just about the only reviews a business really needs. So why are businesses [still] using reviews sites?

We can only think of two reasons…

1.     Legacy: Google reviews only came to prominence after most reviews sites were established, so some businesses have stayed with the reviews solution they signed up to back in the day. They should be urgently reassessing that decision in the light of the above.
2.     They were sold: the reviews sites have sales-forces, Google (in the reviews context) don’t. No-one is going to phone your business and sell you Google reviews.

Action?

The only body with the power to resolve the confusion detailed above is the Competitions & Markets Authority - the UK government body directly responsible for reviews.

Some of you will have read our recent open letter to them, if you have not, it is here.


Further reading...

The future of reviews - could it be bleak?

Without such intervention we would suggest - and have suggested in this article - that reviews as a whole are in danger of losing all credibility, which would be a huge loss for consumers, as genuine credible reviews are a massive force for good.




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