Sunday, March 2, 2014

Online Review Sites: Real People, Real Reviews or Just Spam?

Online review sites have been popping up right and left. However, Yelp has been the king of them for some time.
Just recently Yelp was named one of the top 10 innovative companies to watch by FastCompany.  With more than 117 million monthly users, this online service offers reviews from restaurants to doctors and has over 47 million online reviews and counting. 
But how did they become so successful? Yelp's developers are not just extremely insightful, but they've started to recognize the delight which people share information online and have capitalized on the notion of letting people connect this to their own identity.  Now Yelp users are able to do more with the site than rant about horrible service they've received at House of Waffles.
Nonetheless the social aspect of Yelp has allowed those to sign up and connect to one another on more personal level through the forums. This gives people the opportunity to get to know their neighbors in a virtual sense and learn to trust their judgment.  This platform allows users to get what they want while strengthening the primary structure of the website. But the truth is, the tagline really says it all.
Yelp also has an intense spam filter that might actually be considered a little over doing it However you won’t find that on City Search, which is littered with made up reviews from companies hired by other companies trying to push crappy products or services upon people they must consider extremely gullible idiots.  At times, I’d prefer to not have the filter on Yelp until my profile is established than to try to sift through the garbage on a site like City Search, which is actually doesn't really work. 
Yelp’s Fatal Weakness: 
However there is one aspect of Yelp that makes me want to tear my hair out.  If you've ever wanted to experience a nightmare in real life than try and update the information for your business.  That content is often “locked” by the administrators.  And getting someone on the phone to change it for you is nearly impossible because Yelp, like the head cheerleader from your high school days, their too busy for your phone calls.
However Angie’s List excels in this department.  I was shocked to discover that when calling them for an info update, a real live person answered the phone on the first ring! Soon after I was transferred to another human without any hold time or ridiculous music.  And here’s how the conversation went once that polite fellow picked up:
Customer Service Representative: Hello, what’s the name of the business?
Me[I told him]
Customer Service Representative: Okay let me pull that up… Oh, it looks like there are multiple listings of this business, I’ll send a request to merge those. What can I help you with today?
Me: Uh that was it and you’re awesome.
Customer Service Representative[laughing] We hope to provide the best level of service to our clients, given the nature of our business.
Me: Hmmm do you think you can you get a hold of Yelp for me?
The truth is, Yelp has to much on their plate, like Facebook. Got an issue with Facebook? You can waste an hour scouring the unhelpful FAQs, but you definitely won't be able talk to someone from the company.
Don’t get me wrong, Yelp is extremely useful, and however I hope they don’t over-extend their services the way Facebook has done.  They stand behind their position to allow free speech without allowing businesses to hush it up with bribes. Plus their open to criticism that they receive on their Yelp review page. And there’s a ton.
Yelp’s has a straight business model. So long as they don’t get greedy, the entire US will be Yelping in no time!

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