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Use Customer Reviews · Become Better Informed Shoppers · Use Consumer Ratings · Reviews · Research Products and Services

Customer Reviews – How To Get Out Of Them What Really Matters!
 
Whether you purchase online or at the retail level, Customer Reviews are playing a significant role in shoppers’ abilities to research products or services in advance.  The universally understood spirit of sharing opinions has provided a tool that has changed the way consumers shop! Thanks to the internet, very few products or services are exempt from our being able to scrutinize via valuable feedback.  It’s easy to find out what others who have purchased a product or hired a company you are considering have to say.  You can (and why wouldn’t you?!) take a look at others’ feedback before you make definitive buying decisions!  Wouldn’t it be helpful to be able to ward off any potential surprises before they happen?  Customer Reviews can help you sift out good from bad, quality vs. sleaze, and integrity vs. fraud.  Customer Reviews can be great tools.  Learn how to read what you need from Customer Reviews in order to get out of them what matters! 
 
First, keep in mind that Customer Reviews are a compilation of other people’s opinions.  Also, Customer Reviews are subjective and based on unknown sets of standards and expectations.  However, when you look for patterns of good or bad, they are usually easy to detect.  It is this information along with some other factors that can help you establish your own comfort levels or not.  What matters most is what you expect from a particular product or service.  Read through any available Reviews on products or services you are considering, looking specifically for indicators related to your questions and expectations. 
 
Use these helpful tips when reading Customer Reviews to get out of them what matters:
  • Are the Reviews related to what you will be hiring for or purchasing? Comparing apples to apples is important.
    Comparing apples to apples is important.  For instance, if you are considering a contractor to paint the exterior of your home, make sure you are reading Reviews
    for that company that pertain to the same kind of work you will be hiring them for.  Some companies might be great at one thing, but no so great at something else.
     
  • How recent are the Reviews? Keep in mind that with companies and products, much can change even over a six month period.  Hold more bearing to more recent Reviews, as you will be more apt to be working closer to apples to apples with more recent information.

  • What is the integrity of the Reviews? Does the website police the Reviews for validity?  How easy is it to offer Reviews, meaning could they be from a relative or competitor?  Or from the company, themselves?  Are the Reviews verified before they are posted?

  • How much information are you able to get from a Review?  Does the Review also provide you with Ratings?  You will get more for yourself with Reviews that contain specific information about the work completed, the cost for the work, comments from the consumer, as well as ratings to accompany the feedback.  Ratings on specific quality criteria help give you a clearer picture of a company’s overall performance and help set you up for a clear set of expectations from the company.  Look for ratings on criteria like: Communication, Quality of Work, Cleanliness; Timeliness, Integrity, Honesty, Pricing, Professionalism, Customer Service, Overall Experience or Value, Product Durability, Warranties, etc.

  • If you see one really bad Review and all the others are good… it’s fair to not necessarily dismiss the company all together, at least not so fast.  Better yet, it’s fair to you to inquire about that particular Review with the company.  There is usually two sides to every story.  For your own peace of mind, getting the company’s take on the information might be enlightening to you in ways you may not have anticipated.  You may end up being the final judge and jury on the matter, but at least you will have gathered the necessary information.

  • If you are reading bad Reviews about a company and see a pattern… this is likely a red flag telling you to steer clear of them. 

  • Look, also, for patterns of good things.  Look for information that demonstrate integrity, honesty, fairness, experience, competence, quality work, and security that the company will stand behind their work and promises.

  • If you are comparing several companies and notice a discrepancy in pricing for a particular service… be cautious about judging who is over or under priced until you have more information.  Frequently, the lowest priced services could be that low because they are using lesser quality materials, or slacking off on the process, taking short cuts, or not doing everything that should be done.  It’s important to know if you are comparing apples to apples when determining if pricing is fair and competitive. 

  • Look for Reviews on third party websites. These will post Reviews that are good, bad or ugly.  Be cautious of taking too seriously Reviews posted on individual company websites.  Most are probably safe to consider as truthful, as the companies posting them are proud of the testimonials they receive and excited to share their positive feedback with you.  However, they will likely not be as excited to share many negative ones, so knowing if you are getting a full picture of the company is not clearly known.

  • For products or companies with few or only one Review…at least there is something. Read them carefully trying to pull out indicators of quality. 

  • Consider it a bonus if you are also able to see counter feedback from a particular company being Reviewed.  Because it is natural that there are often two sides to every experience, sites that provide a means for companies to respond to feedback posted about them are actually providing you, the consumer, with the ability to get the bigger picture in those instances.  Even so, you, still make your final assessments, but at least you will have more complete information.

  • Sometimes it is useful to research a company or product on several sites that provide Reviews for a respective company or product you are considering.  Again, looking for patterns throughout is smart and can help you make a more comfortable decision to hire or not to hire, or buy or not to buy.

  • Lastly, be a Review poster, yourself, if you are comfortable. Realizing the value you have placed in reading them for yourself, it takes a mutual effort to continue the pattern for others looking for similar information.  To be a poster, you may be better served if you look for websites that allow you post for free and keep your contact information confidential.  Post with integrity and accuracy and you will help contribute to the ongoing value that Customer Reviews provide to a vast number of consumers very similar to yourself.
We hope this information is helpful to you, as consumers, looking for information prior to making important hiring and buying decisions. Customer Reviews are valuable tools available in a myriad of places. Hopefully, knowing how to utilize them to get the most out of them will be of greater benefit to you as you shop and hire in the future. 
 
 
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