Generalisations about beer culture

The secret language of customer reviews

The subject of review websites like TripAdvisor, Beerintheevening, RateBeer, etc., is a very emotive one. They can make business people who are struggling to make ends meet, and sincerely believe in their products or services, feel under attack and powerless.

But we honestly don’t think they shouldn’t worry so much and that they should credit us, the consumers, with some intelligence in the way we use customer reviews.

We’re good at spotting rogue reviews — those totally at odds with those around them, either very negative or wildly (even implausibly) positive. We want to know what the majority of people using the service thought of it. We know there are cranks out there and can usually spot reviews written by the owner of the pub next door. (“Not as nice as the nearby Dog and Duck, which has a two-for-one carvery offer this weekend, by the way.”)

When a bad review gets a sensible, sincere public response, we consider it cancelled out.

We never look at a score and make a decision based solely on that. The content of reviews is the most important part: “This pub is terrible. It has no Foster’s, only loads of weird Belgian beer. 3/10.”

Having said all of that, if you run a business (a pub, a brewery, whatever) and you consistently get lower scores and worse reviews from ordinary punters than you feel you deserve, then maybe it’s time to stop blaming the system and take a long hard look at what you are doing.

Just because some customers are arseholes it doesn’t mean they’re not right.

4 replies on “The secret language of customer reviews”

Ed — glad to hear it. I guess it’s like learning to ignore trolls on the internet: instinct is to fight back but it doesn’t do any good.

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