Tag Archives: Yelp

Unmasking the Problem with Anonymous Online Reviews

Why do robbers wear masks and spies wear disguises? The reason is simple. It’s because their true identities are protected from backlash or, in some cases, severe punishment. The same is true of online review sites. Giving reviewers the ability to hide behind a mask, or in this case, a screen name, allows them to write things they would never say face-to-face to a businesses owner. It also allows them to exercise hyperbole and, in many cases, just plain lie.

Let’s use the experience one of our executives posted on our Facebook page as an example.

“While managing a restaurant, a guest and his friend came in, one of which was clearly intoxicated. He made his way to the bathroom where he got sick, leaving a mess for staff members to clean. They were asked to leave, as clearly the man required medical attention. It was unsanitary and unsafe for him to be in the restaurant. The sober man was understandably upset, so to calm him down a bit, I explained why his friend had to leave and offered him a gift card and a free appetizer to enjoy upon his next return. He was appreciative, shook my hand and left. Two days later, the same man wrote a one star Yelp review citing he was treated disrespectfully by being asked to leave when he wasn’t even drunk and that the management showed ‘little care’. As usual with Yelp, there was no way to contact this man in an effort to rectify all harsh feelings so we simply had to deal with a very unfair one star rating.”

Face-to-face this patron accepted the gift card, but behind the mask of Yelp, he took aim and got revenge. Whether reviews being posted are accurate or over top in a positive or negative way, people using these reviews to make decisions shouldn’t have to guess.

Wyngspan’s Trust Score system unmasks whether businesses and professionals are trustworthy. No disguises no masks. Just the value of having a review system you can trust.

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The 5 Biggest Problems with Online Reviews

We all know them and, if you are a business owner, you probably fear them. We’re talking about Angie’s List, Yelp, CitySearch and all of the other online review sites out there. While millions use these sites every day to help them make decisions on where to eat, shop, get a check-up and do just about everything else, there are some serious problems everyone should know about before they consider trusting what they are reading.

1) Reviewers are not Average Joes.
Only a small percentage of the population post reviews. Typically, reviewers have to be motivated by an exceptionally good or bad experience to take the time out to write about it. So, not only are the people that post reviews not reflective of the entire population but also their experience probably isn’t representative of the typical interaction with that business. There is an inherent adverse selection problem with online reviews, which makes it tough to believe what you are reading.

2) Lack of context.
Who is the reviewer? Are they related to the doctor they are reviewing? Or did the owner of the business they are posting a negative review of just dump them? All of this data is critical to understanding the context behind the review. Without it, the review simply isn’t trustworthy.

3) Rankings are subjective.
What one reviewer considers a one-star spa might be what someone else considers a four-star business. Without clear criteria at each level there is not an accurate way of determining a scoring system that these review sites are using.

4) Most sites goals are not clear.
What specifically are users looking for in a review? TripAdvisor allows for the filtering of results by price, rankings, location etc. But ultimately for other sites the goal is to find a service or professional that is trustworthy, but the sites do not explicitly call out that goal and reviewers aren’t focused on that specific attribute.

5) The A-Word.
We’re talking about advertising in exchange for better rankings or reviews. Many of the online review sites struggle to turn a profit without having businesses pay to improve their rankings or even get on their lists to begin with. There is no way that an online review or ranking system can be trusted if there is money changing hands between the site and the businesses being reviewed.

Asking your own contacts for their feedback would get you a more accurate picture before patronizing a business or hiring a professional. Until now that wasn’t possible unless you wanted to email, chat or (gasp) call individuals in your network. But with Wyngspan a trustworthy ranking in the form of a Trust Factor is at your finger tips.

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