With TripAdvisor, the world’s largest travel site, under investigation in the UK by the Advertising Standards Authority, the issue of fake or unsubstantiated reviews has never been higher profile.
Feefo has taken a stand at World Travel Market 2011 (TT004) to promote its technology, which has been successful in sectors such as online fashion retail. Travel is the first sector to get a dedicated channel on Feefo.
Andrew Mabbutt, Feefo managing director, said: “We are established in a number of sectors, but the one we keep getting drawn back to is the travel industry.
“It has been dominated by TripAdvisor and just about every travel company I speak to when I am introduced to them moans about TripAdvisor.
“There are so many companies out there that have been damaged by reviews. I’m not saying we are coming along with the golden solution but what we have done in the retail sector absolutely lends itself to business to business.
“We can absolutely work for the travel company and give them an opportunity to protect their brand if it’s worth protecting. Anyone doing a bad job is not going to be a customer of Feefo.”
Feefo can currently been seen at work on sites operated by clothing retailers Charles Tyrwhitt, Pink and Joe Brown’s and also The White Company, Fortnum and Mason and recruitment agency Monster.com.
Sine Mabbutt bought into the business 18 months ago he said it has grown eight-fold and increased its client base from around 40 to 400.
The Feefo system enables firms to respond immediately and publically to criticism. Feefo partners with its clients to share enough customer data about them and their purchase to send an email requesting feedback.
It claims to have an impressive 20% response rate (the industry standard is 3%), and while customers are not incentivised to leave a review they can be rewarded afterwards with something like a money-off voucher for a future purchase.
The email, which is branded to the retailer’s requirements, asks the customer to answer simple tick box questions rating the product and the service of the company.
Feefo does not offer an ‘average’ option, and no ‘poor’ or ‘bad’ rating can be submitted without the customer filling in a form with an explanation.
Companies are notified when a negative review is submitted, giving them the chance to submit a prompt reply to the customer’s complaint. This then sits alongside the review allowing future customers to see that the company has taken the complaint seriously and responded.
Mabbutt said the Feefo system allows the retailer to know exactly who has posted a negative review and to respond directly.
He said Feefo encourages its retailers to respond to every single piece of negative feedback. “Two bad reviews and your brand can be destroyed,” he said.
Feefo also has the advantage of not taking potential customers who want to read reviews in detail to a third-party website that displays competitor advertising.
A widget on clients’ websites displays headline ratings and reviews, but this takes the customer to a new page on the retailer’s website that pulls in the Feefo reviews.
Feefo was appointed a licenced partner with Google in August, and has since taken Charles Tyrwhitt from a two-and-a-half star rating to four-and-half out of five in search results.
Mabbutt said by using Feefo clients also gain more SEO juice because reviews are being requested by a third party and websites and product pages are being constantly updated with new content.
“Simply asking will encourage people to leave more positive reviews,” Mabbutt said. “We are expanding fantastically and we want to hit this industry in a big way.”