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    Belkin puts a price on its Customer Experience: 65 Cents

    Posted by Luis Serpa on January 22, 2009 - 8:58 PM

    Some companies may say that a good experience is priceless, but it seems that someone at Belkin really thought that he could get a few good experiences for a lot less and now the company is paying a steep price to recover their customers’ trust.

    The (dumb) idea was simple in concept: use Amazon’s Mechanical Turk Cloud Service to recruit “reviewers” for Belkin’s products.  The hired reviewers’ task was pretty simple: give the highest possible rating available to the products as if they had bought them.  The price tag for each review: just 65 cents!  (see full description of the offer in the image below)

    Belkin's offer on Mechanical Turk

    The history was first published by The Daily Background and then reported on TechCrunch. Looks like it was all the action of a Business Development Representative named Michael Bayard and not a company-wide strategy, but the damage it caused is still the same.  After the spread of the article through the web, Belkin posted a reply taking action to fix the situation without denying or explaining how it happened in the first place.

    The point of the story here should be obvious but I will spell it out it anyway: A good Customer Experience CAN’T be produced artificially!  It is always the result of good services and care provided to your customers and the results you get will always mirror your real intentions.  Alienated and wronged customers usually spread the word pretty fast. The whole incident is being called now “The Mechanical Turk Shilling” and the negative comments about it on the Blogosphere and twitter have been growing exponentially since Saturday.

    I am betting that Belkin will be paying way more than 65 cents now to fix the situation, and nothing guarantees that their product reviews will ever be totally trusted again…

    **UPDATE: It seems that Belkin was not the only one to try to leverage Mechanical Turk’s services to unethically increase scores. There are people paying good money to cheat a Twitter competition, the Shorty Awards.

    See original post at Vox Inc – Customerspective Blog

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