Welcome one and all to this month's Review News - a summary of all the review-related news over the last four weeks. As always, we've gathered the good, the bad, and the down-right ugly goings-on of the review world to keep you in the loop. If there's anything worth knowing, it'll be here.
Without further ado, let's get started!
Which? finds thousands of fake Amazon views in latest study
Amazon's been in the news a lot recently and not for good reason. The Guardian's latest feature citing a recent Which? report is just one of many that have been calling the company out for its seemingly unmanaged review system.
So what is Amazon doing to stop fake reviews? Well, they do have guidelines in place. Incentivised reviews are not allowed, so if the product was bought at a discounted price on the premise that a review would be left, this would get the business in trouble. However, the real problem is detecting these fake reviews.
Unlike Google Licensed Review Platforms, where buyers have to verify their feedback with proof of purchase, on Amazon, the criteria for leaving reviews is 'To write a Customer Review, you must have spent at least £40 on Amazon.co.uk. Prime subscriptions and promotional discounts don't qualify towards the £40 minimum. After you meet this requirement, you'll be able to review any product on Amazon.co.uk regardless of where you purchased that product. We don't permit reviews of the same product from customers in the same household.'
This means, similarly to Google My Business, anyone can leave a review, whether they actually experienced it or not. Amazon is relying on the honesty of both consumers and businesses - and it looks like it's backfiring.
Author & reviewer Paul Constant encapsulates the power of reviews
Reviewer turned author, Paul Constant, has reviewed everything from dinners out to comic books in his time. But now, the tables have turned and his new comic, Planet Of The Nerds will see him on the other side of consumer feedback.
In his interview on iO9 he admits this has him feeling a little nervous, which reminds us of something we often forget when perusing online - feedback is more than just stars on a screen. So often, reviews are seen as a tool to leverage customer trust or even as a necessity to keep up with competitors, but Paul shows there's so much more to feedback than profits and losses. Reviews, of any kind, enable you to listen, respond and learn from your customers - they facilitate conversation.
Restaurant penalised by TripAdvisor after employee leaves floods of fake reviews
For restaurants, TripAdvisor has become somewhat of the Holy Grail. Being awarded a Certificate Of Excellence is much like winning an Olympic Gold and restaurants have been known to do pretty much anything to get to the top.
One such restaurant that competed for Top Spot was Arbuckles restaurant, in Downham Market. In an attempt to encourage and reward good customer service, they rolled out a policy that gave staff applauded in reviews a £10 voucher - a nice incentive, on paper. But it quickly turned sour when TripAdvisor traced several positive reviews back to the same IP address - one of the staff members had taken advantage of the new system in order to cash in on the rewards. As a result, Eastern Press reports that TripAdvisor marked the reviews as negative and also took away Arbuckles certificate of excellence.
We always advise companies to take extreme care when offering any kind of compensation or reward for feedback, as the consequences can often be much greater than the gains.
Bad weather increases the likelihood of negative Yelp reviews
Many of us feel happier when the sun is out, but it's only now that the linked between bad weather and customer feedback has been recognised.
A study featured by the New York Post has found that customers are much more likely to be in a better mood in better weather - often leading to more positive reviews. Another plausible explanation is that it's not so much the moods of the punters that are affected, but those of the staff. Trudging to work in the rain and watching it fall past the windows whilst you clean tables could cause your service and attention to detail to take a hit, leading to less-positive reviews.
The solution? Creating a sunny experience for both staff and customers, whatever the weather.
Emilia Clarke Waxwork gets scathing but hilarious Twitter reviews
In case you'd managed to miss the big news this month, Game Of Thrones is back. And with it comes a new addition to the Dublin Waxworks Museum - a statue of Daenerys Targaryen.
Known for her beauty and feminine features, the waxwork prompted some rather brutal feedback on Twitter from loyal fans.
Whilst the feedback itself wasn't exactly positive, the conversation and buzz it created definitely was - 'there's no such thing as bad press' after all. With social media, online reviews become even more powerful, transforming from something quite static to a post your community can engage with.
That's all for this month's Reviews News! Pop back in May for more highlights.