Vamsi Gadey

Making Customer Reviews More Helpful & Trustworthy

UGC was previously mostly perceived as a driver for same session conversion. This has prevented the team from doing the right thing for all the players in the ecosystem: consumers, contributors, merchants and Groupon. I helped reposition the UGC team's mission, framed the discussion on why Groupon should invest in it, and what we should build. I also helped redefine the success criteria for this project around long-term metrics than short-term metrics.


  • PM (me)

  • Engineering team

  • Lead designer

  • User researcher


  • Defining product mission, vision and strategy

  • Defining success metrics

  • Planning and iterating with team

  • Motivating the team


UGC (User Generated Content) team provides customers with a medium to share their Groupon experiences to:

  • Instill shoppers with confidence in buying Groupon deals

  • Provide merchants with actionable feedback to provide better customer service

  • Create a neutral and trustworthy marketplace that rewards and promotes quality merchants

Players and their motivations in UGC ecosystem


I found out from user research and App Store reviews that users don’t trust Groupon’s ratings and reviews, and hence navigate outside of Groupon (e.g., to Yelp) to seek additional information. Not only does this make the shopping experience time-consuming, but also increased the risk of users abandoning deals on Groupon.


Of all definitions of trust given in several articles, reliability, confidence and willingness to depend are the most important components of trust (Rousseau, Sitkin, Burt & Camerer, 1998).

Considerable literature has shown that trust has three dimensions: cognitive trust, affective trust and behavioral trust. The type of social relationship among trust protagonists is likely to determine the relative importance and strength of the cognitive versus the affective elements of trust (Lewis & Weigert, 1985). While emotion-based trust (e.g., judgements about trustee benevolence, feeling of likeability) is most influential in long-established primary-group relationships (among members of a kin), cognitive-based trust is more extensive and contributes more to the development of trust in relationships with secondary group (e.g., unknown individuals, social systems).

Based on past UX research and literature review, I identified three aspects of cognitive trust in the context of ratings/reviews for UGC

trust in ratings & reviews.png


In 2018, one of the key goals I set for the UGC team is to improve perceptions on trust with the hypothesis that improving trust on ratings and reviews is going to help conversion, repeat visits, purchase frequency and customer lifetime value.

To do that, we have to isolate trust and find a way to consistently measure trust as we make changes and conduct experiments for ratings and reviews on Groupon. Working with user research, we came up with a reliable, measurable and repeatable measure called Trust Score. More about it here.


I can’t quickly give helpful insights
I don’t trust reviews on Groupon
Dimensions & Aspects.032.png


We redesigned both the contributor and consumer flows making it:

  • easier for contributors to give helpful feedback with new forms of feedback such as dimensions, badges and photos

  • easier for consumers to access all reviews and derive insights from them


Dimensions & Aspects v2.001.png




We started giving more definition for the ideas generated at the UGC offsite. Products and services with enough reviews invariably show increased interest and engagement from users. Many products and services have thousands of reviews but an average user doesn’t read more than 15–20 reviews before forming an opinion about it.


For consumers, the main questions we were focused on were:

  • How can we get users to trust Groupon’s reviews, not leaving to find reviews on Yelp, Google, TripAdvisor or Amazon?

  • What can we do to make sure users aware of the most helpful tips such as availability of appointments, cash only, parking situation etc.

  • Can we summarize and use reviews in a better way? What can we do to make it easy for users to quickly extract out information they need among all UGC content?

Screenshot 2018-11-18 00.56.53.png

For contributors, the main questions we were focused on were:

  • For users who initiate writing a review, what can we do to motivate them to write more thoughtful reviews?

  • Knowing that not everyone is in for writing detailed reviews, what can we do to still collect helpful information from them?

Dimensions & Aspects.022.png


After we narrowed down our ideas, we iterated through the ideas, gradually adding more detail to them. Here is one idea where contributor and consumer experiences were tied, and we needed to balance them out. We wanted to finalize a design based on how easy and helpful it is for consumers on the deal page, while making sure we are able to capture that feedback from contributors directly:


Screenshot 2018-11-17 19.37.20.png


  • Trust: Trust is the foundation for any UGC platform. Without trust, consumers won’t engage with any content included in Groupon’s UGC.

  • Drive Faster Purchase Decisions: As much as users value ratings and reviews, they are another thing consumers have to pay attention to while shopping on Groupon. The ultimate goal for consumers is simply to feel confident about their decisions. The more we can reduce their cognitive load and extract key insights, the faster and easier it will be for them to make a purchase decision.

  • Invest in building a community: Many consumers just see Groupon as a place to get discounted services or product. The interactions are very transactional. There is little relationship among consumers or between consumers and businesses.