A few years back I wrote a blog about some very negative news coverage that Tripadvisor was generating with widespread accusations of fake reviews being submitted.
As time has passed I was wondering whether things in the “review industry” had changed. Let’s face it, reviews are easily accessible and widely used by many consumers the world over. Their effect can definitely have an impact on a business and particularly so on smaller businesses that may have less of a well known brand presence.
So I recently read an article on Econsultancy that Amazon has developed new technology to improve the reliability of reviews on its site.
Referring back to my old blog, I have my own set of checks in place these days when I use a site like Tripadvisor. If I’m going to be shelling out hundreds of pounds to stay in a hotel, the last thing I want is a bad experience on holiday.
For my own peace of mind, my personal checklist consists of the following:
- Who has written the review? If it is anonymous why would I give it any weight? If I have a positive or, more importantly, negative experience I want the company in question to deal with it. Is the reviewer’s family in danger if they put their name to it? Did they accidentally stay at a hotel run by the mafia or a Mexican drugs cartel? If the answer is “no” to the above then surely give the business owners the opportunity to address your grievances.
- How many other reviews has that author published? If this is their only review (or maybe they have just one or two others) I’m usually a bit sceptical. I realise all reviewers have to start somewhere to build up their portfolio, but this leads me on to my next point…
- Are there lots of glowing reviews about the accommodation by separate authors who each have only one review and none or very few by any who review more frequently? This rings alarm bells with me in particular, as it is easy for a business owner to create a load of fake profiles and post a positive review for each. It’s more time consuming however, for them to then start reviewing other properties in order for them to gain a bit of credibility as a genuine reviewer.
I have used Tripadvisor in the example, simply as I spend a lot of time on that site and have become wiser to spotting the “red flags” over time. However, you can often translate that same logic to many other review sites.
It’s good to see Amazon developing technology to improve the reliability of customer reviews and I’ve no doubt other online organisations will follow suit.
The problem with too many sites is that reviews can be tainted (both positive and negative) by organisations looking to generate income as their primary goal rather than actually provide an honest and unbiased comparison for both B2C and B2B users to be able to make an informed decision.
It’s got to the stage where I’m as likely to Google reviews about the review site itself as I am to make any buying decisions based solely on the ”impartial” information that is on there.
Keep your wits about you people!