Since reviews of products or services can make or break a business, they take on great importance in today’s world of consumerism. Enough bad reviews can scare away new and old customers, while conversely, glowing 5-star reviews can attract and drive more sales.
Savvy companies keep a close eye on individual reviews, trends in critiques, and the average star rating for their products. However, with such a prolific selection of online retailers, it can be hard to track all the places a product may be reviewed. More importantly, social media reviews don’t offer a star rating system but rather consist only of text comments and perhaps an emoji or two. For statisticians, that makes the waters very muddy.
The AI Advantage
Searching across all the posts is where AI makes a difference. There are a number of AI-driven services that scour social media platforms and retailers, big and small, for mentions of a product, brand, or company, gather up all of the reviews relevant to the search criteria, and analyze the written reviews to pick out the trends and common themes that may be invisible to someone looking at star ratings or just the company’s customer complaint logs. These systems can go from basic scraping of data for keywords to full analysis of reviews for negative tones, new ways of using a product, or demographics of users that like and dislike a service.
For the past few years, AI has been able to and employed to write reviews. Reviews that lead you to buy a product, go to a restaurant, or enlist a service provider may be written by an AI program. This can allow an unscrupulous supplier to turn on the bot and have it churn out reviews praising their own product on top retailer sites, their own site, and on social media, posing as real users posting believable reviews. While unethical and misleading, this type of behavior would be difficult to track down if done right, and with AI getting better at impersonating human typed speech every day, may not even set off alarm bells to have anyone look into the behavior.
On the flip-side of this nefarious use of AI, companies can enlist an AI reviewer to tirelessly spit out convincing reviews of competitive products, highlighting shortcomings, poor quality, lack of service, or anything that will drive sales down. The target company may respond to these reviews, show consumer good will, and try to reach out to smooth the waters, but a string of 1 and 2 star reviews may create enough damage to spell doom for a product or company.
How To Use Reviews
As AI further infiltrates online consumer reviews, it will be up to the consumer to decide which reviews to trust and which to question. Users can no longer believe everything they read about a product or service, but it’s a good start. Look for common denominators between the reviews, and while you might not spot the computerized versions, you could still use reviews to inform your choices.