How often do you head to the review section online when you don’t know anything about a service, a restaurant, or a product? Those short little blurbs are a great way to glean some basic information about the unknown and help you gauge whether or not that product or service will fit what you’re looking for. For many, online reviews are a good way to make an educated guess as to whether something is worth their hard earned time and money. But these days, review sites have been getting a bad rap. With stories about how some sites allow companies to pay fees and hide bad reviews or boost good ones, plus the stories that come out about companies leaving poor reviews to lower a competitor’s rankings, it can be hard to figure out what is trustworthy. With so much uncertainty about the trustworthiness, is it even worth it to read online reviews?
The Problem With Online Reviews
The biggest issue with most online reviews is how they get online to begin with. Many review sites don’t even ask people to create a profile before leaving rankings and comments, and if they do ask reviewers to make a profile, there aren’t any steps taken to verify it. Ultimately, what this means is that anyone can say anything they want with few checks or balances on it. Part of the issue, as we mentioned above, is that some people will choose to abuse their power and leave false reviews in order to get ahead of their competition. And, even less savory of a practice, some review sites have been accused of trying to extort money from businesses in order to promote positive reviews or remove negative reviews from their site entirely.
The second potentially problematic thing about online reviews is that of motivation. Generally speaking, unless a person is prompted, they aren’t likely to leave a review unless they are highly pleased with the product/service or really displeased. This sort of all-or-nothing mindset can leave a pretty skewed set of results when collected as a whole, which can make it harder to know what information to trust. Of course, on top of this, there’s the slight issue of personal preference, as well. Something that would be amazing to one person may be little better than mediocre to another; without an explanation, it can be hard to discern what someone means when they say a service was great.
So Why Read Reviews?
Given all that, it may sound like a pretty strong case for ignoring online reviews, but that’s not what we’re trying to say. In fact, if we were to condense our message down to one simple point, it would be this: take everything you read online with a grain of salt. However, if you’re willing to put in a bit of effort, online merchant services reviews can give you a great broad view of a service or product. Those pitfalls we mentioned above are, generally, a sort of worst-case scenario, rather than the norm. So, as long as you’re willing to do a bit of research into a particular review platform, those online reviews can actually be a very beneficial resource to learn more before you buy and minimize the risk that you’ll be wasting your hard earned money.
But the big question is, why read online reviews in the first place? And the easy answer is to learn before you buy, especially in instances like hiring a moving company or going to a restaurant, when you can’t exactly try before you buy. Online merchant services reviews work a bit like getting recommendations from friends, except you don’t actually know the people doing the recommending. However, if reviewers are conscientious, as many of them are, a detailed review can give you just as much information as your friend would, if not more. In fact, some of the bigger review platforms offer incentives for those who leave reviews in order to build a more comprehensive view of a given service.
And yes, even those negative reviews can have a positive impact. Most business keep a keen eye on their reviews across as many platforms as they can. Those comments and critiques from customers are often used as a way to improve their business. This is, of course, why we say you should take all reviews with a grain of salt. If a business is actually paying attention to their reviews and taking the information to heart, those negative reviews from months or years ago may no longer be relevant. Ultimately, both business owners and customers win, in that regard.
Finding Trustworthy Reviews
If you’re not quite sure where to start in terms of wading through all the reviews online, we can suggest a few things. First, do a quick online search into the review platform you’re looking at. This should give you an idea whether or not they have been accused of poor review practices or lack a checks-and-balances system. Second, look for more detailed reviews. These will be the reviews from people who put honest thought and effort into their review, and these are more likely to be the accurate and trustworthy ones. Plus, they will give you a better idea of what to expect. Third, try to stick primarily to review sites that take the time to check information before posting. And fourth, look for companies that take the time to engage with reviewers, and not just the positive reviews. Companies that seek to get more information about bad reviews are the ones more likely taking the steps to correct their missteps.
For those unsure where to turn when hunting for new services, start with Customer Advocate. We have designed our merchant reviews services platform to verify every review as well as each company before we post them on site. This way, you can trust that you’re getting information from actual customers, and the companies being reviewed are licensed or otherwise up to date on their credentials. We want to help you avoid scams and get the best service possible. Learn more about our process, and find the services you need today!