When was the last time you booked a hotel without checking Tripadvisor? Or ignored customer reviews when you weren’t sure about something on Amazon? Or decided you knew better than 100-plus other people when checking out a restaurant you haven’t been to before?
I’ve realised, recently, how much I use customer reviews and ratings and that led to a few other thoughts.
Around Eastertime, I rented an apartment in Washington DC as an alternative to staying in a hotel. To cut a very long story short, the apartment was fine, but I didn’t see why I should have paid for someone else’s apartment as well when that popped up on my credit card statement. Getting the money back proved troublesome, but I noticed that the speediest responses came when I referred to the feedback I’d leave on the website I booked through. The relationship between customer and supplier seems to be shifting as a result of feedback, reviews and ratings.
The second point is that we’re now invited to leave feedback and to rate our experiences. (At times, it feels more like coerced and nagged, but I’ll stick with invited for now.) There’s any number of articles about how people value peer-level recommendations ahead of expert-led reviews and businesses are tapping into this, using the peer-review framework and Facebook likes to gain validation for their products.
And we expect to leave feedback too. We expect to have a view and to be able to express it publicly. Private comments feel very twentieth century – along with the privilege of knowing someone who can give you the inside track on something and tell you what it’s really like because there’s little up-to-date information in general circulation.
It’s part of what I call the concept of everyone.* It’s now accepted that everyone’s view is worthwhile and that everyone has a right to have their say.
I’m curious to see what will happen in the next ten years. What form will customer feedback take – and what role will it play – by then? Will we still Like or will we have moved to another form of universal rating? And will professional reviewers still have a role to play or will they have been replaced by all of us publishing our own views?
*For those who haven’t seen it, the concept of everyone was one of the earliest posts – October 2014.