There is something going on with these paid-for “online review” companies. We thought you should know.
To summarize the data below, this is our essential conclusion:
Essentially the point of these paid-for services is to ensure that the company pays a service to help them avoid or remove bad reviews, hence propping up a rating that is “influenced” by the company itself.
Therefore aggregate rating scores that come from these paid-for services are not nearly as credible and believable as actual Google Customer Reviews
Rating scores should be something an online buyer can trust as being real and not just a tool of the company publicizing it.
These paid-for review services seem to be popping up everywhere. Companies that used to use the much more credible Google Review system (more on that below) are now replacing Google with these online paid-for review services and websites that promise all sorts of benefits to the company. Why do they do it? There is one reason and one reason only. To make sure they have a higher rating. But it goes much deeper than that.
First, we should comment that as a company 100% dedicated to the planet and to being ethical, we would never do such a thing. Reviews are important. We believe that all reviews should be for the benefit of the customer, to inform them. A review score should be something trustworthy, and should never be a number that we could influence or change by bribing or negotiating with customers before or after a transaction. We believe that if a company can influence a review score so easily, then that review score is simply irrelevant.
What is the point of a review if companies can influence their ratings like that?
When you see an online seller use a private review service, you will almost always notice one interesting fact. The positive review percentage is often SKY HIGH. Our competitors in the contact lens industry are a great example, but it all over the place with online companies. We have even seen a 99% rating with one online company. Really?? 99%? Seriously?
How do they get these types of rating scores? These crazy high ratings are coming almost exclusively from paid-for review services that have very different protocols than Google does. Google calls these “Partner Sites” and wow are the rules of the road completely different. In fact, one could argue that the paid-for review sites are more about public relations, remarketing and doing damage control than being a credible review service.
So what is a “Partner Site”? What service or product are they selling to the companies that use them? What benefit do they bring and why are their review ratings figures so much higher than that of an actual Google Customer Rating? Let’s dig a bit deeper…
Examples of how review sites sell themselves to companies:
One site boasts that companies can “retain and engage visitors with our Consumer Care engine“. Yet another claims to companies that their site “provides you with a full cycle content engine to bring your customers together.”
Another company tells client corporations that “if a customer ever leaves a 1 or 2 star rating, you are instantly alerted, and can open up a private message board…” On another site, they claim “We make moderation seamless and simple…” and even have a “moderation window” (whatever that is) to help the company avoid a bad review.
Wow. If that isn’t obvious, we don’t know what is. Clearly the purpose of these review sites is to HELP the company avoid bad reviews.
Let’s think logically. How stupid would a company be to buy a service that doesn’t help them? More importantly, how crazy would a review site be if they offered a paid service but offered no benefit to the company? It actually all makes perfect ‘business’ sense when you think about it.
Let’s explore the services that some or all of these “review” websites provide to online companies:
Collect your customer review data and other contact information for re-marketing, outreach and/or sales promotions;
Allow the company to alter or personalize the review call-out, therefore altering the possible outcome of a review by influencing the reviewer in some fashion;
Allow the company to contact the reviewer AFTER THEY HAVE REVIEWED so that they can influence the buyer into changing their review or offer the reviewer some incentive to remove a bad review;
Allow the company to “personalize” the review request so that it appears to be a “survey” instead of a review or in some form influence a review outcome.
Allows the company to directly offer incentives for leaving a review, sometimes even BEFORE they purchase.
Since the reviewer is not anonymous with these services, these services can allow a company to blacklist or ban a customer who leaves a bad review. Theoritically, it could even open up the door for the company to take legal action against a reviewer.
Like they say “When something walks like a duck and talks like a duck, it is probably a duck.” Yes, we are indeed saying it. Review rating scores that derive from such practices (where companies can remove, negotiate or blacklist) is most certainly A DUCK!
Contactsforless.ca has the highest actual Google Customer Rating of all contact lens websites in Canada
When you check out our competitors, they use the paid-for services and most have disabled the Actual Google Review system they used to use. The reasons are most likely based on what you have already read. That is why we can say we have the HIGHEST GOOGLE RATING (actual Google rating that is not based on a paid-for “partner site”) among our industry. We thought you should know that too.
You see, when your actual google rating is verifiable, unalterable and anonymous, then why pay someone to help dilute that rating? We don’t. We don’t have to. As for the others, ask them why they do it. I bet you they won’t want to talk about it. In fact, they probably don’t want us talking about it either. Yes – that makes sense doesn’t it.
Want to view our actual Google Customer Review? We have the highest rating in our industry in Canada. Period! Click here (and remember it is not diluted by any paid-for review service or “partner site” as Google calls them).
Actual Google Customer Reviews for online customers are anonymous and cannot be removed, altered or negotiated away by the company being reviewed
Well, that says it all, doesn’t it? In other words, reviews are not supposed to be marketing tools for companies to promote themselves. That is – unless the unalterable reviews are actually high, like ours are. Instead, private review sites basically allow the company to dilute any bad reviews using their private paid-for review system. What does this mean to you as a customer?
In fact, don’t just believe us. Google tells us right up front what the rating system is all about:
“Google doesn’t modify existing ratings. To provide consistent ratings, we calibrate ratings and filter out what we consider to be untrustworthy or otherwise questionable.”
…and then Google lists 30 non-Google (presumably all private and/or paid for) review sites that get mixed in with the actual Google Customer Ratings that Google itself collects. Again the conclusion is pretty simple. Google Reviews take comments ONLY from actual buyers, cannot be influenced or bribed with offers or special coupons or free stuff, and are 100% anonymous.
Why does anonymous matter? When a customer is NOT anonymous, the company can react to the review directly to the customer by either blacklisting them, offering them “goodies” to buy again and review again – this time with a higher review score. There is a reason that Google does it the way they do it – and it is not only better, it is more credible as a review system.
Can you trust these private, paid-for reviews then?
It is hard to say actually. How can you truly trust a REVIEW SCORE when you know that the company can contact the reviewers and offer them refunds, rebates or even free products to entice them to change their reviews? How can you trust a review score when you know the PURPOSE OF THE REVIEW SERVICE is to ASSIST THE COMPANY IN GETTING HIGH REVIEWS?
What is the point of a review if it is solely there to benefit the company’s image? Clearly there is something going on here…
A review is supposed to be a trusted source from which YOU THE CUSTOMER can learn, objectively, about the company you may (or may not) buy from. It is supposed to help YOU. It is not supposed to help the company show off how great they are (or are not). One article that advises users on how to best use these paid and/or private review sites states: “Offering a discount in exchange for a review nurtures customer loyalty while also providing content for other customers.”* Again, more of the same. Need we say more?
Trust our reviews: Contactsforless.ca thinks differently
Contactsforless.ca has NEVER used paid-for review services and never will. We believe that Google Customer Reviews for online sellers is the best, most accurate and most customer-safe review system. Yes, sometimes a product will be late or a mistake is made and a company get a 1, 2, 3 or 4 star review. We at Contactsforless.ca accept those reviews and do not try to “flag” or stop them. We simply do not believe that is the fair and honest thing to do.
Clearly other companies feel differently. In fact almost ALL OF THE OTHER CONTACT LENS SITES in Canada use private review sites as their customer review system. Almost all! We think we know why and now you do too.
So, it is our view that you should always buy your contact lenses based on Google Customer Reviews, not “partner sites”. Why? When you receive unalterable reviews that cannot be negotiated or bribed into being changed, you know you are getting the real information on a company. Buy smart and you will always buy happier.
To read more about the Contactsforless.ca mission, please click here.
The quote above in (*) is located here.