Lessons From Yelp’s Ordeal: Retaining Customer Trust is Key

first_imgHere at ReadWriteStart, we’ve mentioned the importance of credibility as an entrepreneur when meeting with venture capitalists and potential investors, but it is also important to carry that credibility forward into your company as you interface with customers. Amid rumors that it was extorting businesses by offering to de-emphasize negative reviews in return for adverting purchases, social review site Yelp announced Monday that it would be “lifting the veil” on its review system and removing controversial features in hopes of securing customer trust.Yelp features a review filter that sorts through reviews of local businesses to determine which is more trustworthy and places the top ones on the business’ profile page. Some have claimed that Yelp was helping businesses pick the best reviews to show if that company was purchasing advertising on Yelp, a clear case of extortion that the company has vehemently denied, calling the claims a “conspiracy theory.”Now when users visit a business’ Yelp profile, they can choose to look over the reviews the filter has automatically reviewed by clicking a link near the bottom of the page near the pagination links (not exactly the easiest feature to find, I had to search for “filter” to find it). Yelp has put a CAPTCHA pop-up between the profile and the filtered results to keep robots from crawling the filtered data. Perhaps this is an attempt to prevent them from figuring out how to game the system. Top Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hosting A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai… chris cameron 8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Market When I tested this new feature on one of my favorite downtown Phoenix restaurants, LoLo’s Chicken and Waffles, I saw some similarities among the 25 filtered reviews. A handful were from users who live in other states or who are what Yelp calls “less established users,” and some were either very short, or filled to the brim with Internet abbreviations and misspellings or slang. Others, whose content was hidden from view, had managed to violate Yelp’s review guidelines or terms of service, which I can assume means a variety of things including profanity or obvious spam.Yelp is also discontinuing the use of the “Favorite Review” feature, which Yelp packed with advertising deals to businesses. Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppelman says they decided to remove the feature in hopes of eliminating any confusion.“Despite our best efforts to educate consumers and the small business community, myths about Yelp have persisted,” writes Stoppelman. “[The “Favorite Review” feature] led some people to the wrong conclusions about whether businesses could control the review content on their page. (They can’t.) So, to eliminate the opportunity for that misconception, we’ve eliminated the feature.”By allowing users to go under the hood and see filtered results, Yelp is, I believe, taking a significant step in the name of transparency and openness. While they aren’t revealing any special algorithms for how they determine what makes trustworthy reviews, they are responding in a timely and appropriate manner to the continued allegations of foul play. Regardless of the merit of these claims, Yelp seems bent on securing the trust of their users, a practice every startup should mimic. Also it is important to remember that a certain level of transparency is attractive to users, but not too much. There is a boundary between what should be shared with the community and what should be deeply guarded company secrets, such as fancy algorithms or the inner workings of the site’s major functions. Users can trust a company more when they feel they have some sort of insider’s view of the company through partial transparency. Simply blogging about the company’s activity is sometimes enough to satisfy this need, but other times is may be appropriate, as Yelp has done, to incorporate features which help to underscore the product’s attempts at truth, honesty and validity, if those are major facets of your business. Why Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic… Tags:#start#tips Related Posts last_img read more

Twitter Annotations Not Coming Soon, After All

first_imgA Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai… This spring at Twitter’s first developer conference Chirp the big splash was a forthcoming feature called Annotations. The feature will allow publishing software to annotate Tweets with a wide open variety of metadata, which could then be read and analyzed by other software. Annotations are going to be big, if and when they launch. At Chirp it was said that the Annotations feature would launch in the second or third quarter of this year. Now the company’s developer advocate, Taylor Singletary, said today on the Twitter developers list that it’s not going to work out that way. “We haven’t yet announced a release date,” he said in response to an inquiry, “and it’s still a ways in the future while we tackle some other projects.” We’ve got an inquiry in with Twitter asking what that means, but it seems clear that the company is slammed with technical challenges, has other priorities and wrongly estimated the roadmap for this very important part of the platform. (Update: see below.)Here’s how Annotations will work. It will allow publishing software to mark-up tweets with any kind of characteristic or namespace (local weather when and where a twit did tweet, for example) and any kind of value – cloudy with a chance of meatballs, for example. Twitter messages are fairly rich with metadata already and incredibly easy to analyze and build on top of, but Annotations would open that up so far the sky’s the limit.It’s worth mentioning that Twitter’s unveiling of Annotations at Chirp happened around the same time as, and was widely compared with, Facebook’s launching of personalized content widgets and tentacles expanding all over the web, among other things. Facebook shipped its announced project, for better or for worse.Twitter is BusyIn another email on the same list today, Singletary said that the processing of white-listing applications to ping Twitter’s servers with a production-level frequency was clogged with backlog, growing more critical in its evaluations and being re-evaluated.A whole world of independent developers, empowered with the ability to read and write data, will inevitably build cooler things than even the smartest company in the world. It’s one of those laws like a room full of monkeys and typewriters. And it’s the core value proposition of Annotations, too.Meanwhile, Twitter launched an official recommendation feature today that’s frankly, not nearly as exciting as the kinds of recommendation capabilities that independent developers have built (see Mr.Tweet or Twellow, for example). Hopefully the API for this feature will be turned into more fabulous things. A whole world of independent developers, empowered with the ability to read and write data, will inevitably build cooler things than even the smartest company in the world. It’s one of those laws like a room full of monkeys and typewriters. And it’s the core value proposition of Annotations, too.Numerous advertising technologies have been rolled out since Chirp as well. Annotations is a hugely ambitious strategy, and the squabbling over namespaces and standards was one that Twitter said it was going to let the market work out on its own. That made some people quite unhappy.We’ve asked Twitter for clarification on the revised Annotations roadmap and will update this post with the company’s response.Update: A Twitter spokesperson responded to our inquiry and said that yes, Annotations will launch. “We’ll still launch Annotations. The team that was working on Annotations is currently focused on our number one priority, which is site stability.” No doubt Annotations could themselves pose scalability challenges. They could at least blow our minds, if not a series of related servers.Below is an image of what each Tweet looks like under the hood right now, before annotations. (Click for full size view.) Each of those fields is powerful, but inflexible and defined by the company. Imagine a new one that’s open to being defined however a publishing tool sees fit. That’s the vision behind Annotations. Tags:#news#web Related Posts Why Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic…center_img 8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Market marshall kirkpatrick Top Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hostinglast_img read more