Believe It Or Not

We’re busy prepping Rancho Deluxe for sale and so we’re in need of some outside services to perform tasks such as washing the roof (damn lichen). In our digital age, I’m doing what any person would do: checking the web for reviews as well as for potential service people. The problem is not finding information. The issue is knowing which information to trust. I suspect this is an issue for you and for your business as well.

There are review sites such as Yelp and Angie’s List. Yelp, in particular, has a reputation, justified or not, of having issues. Fake reviews are allegedly rampant and the company has been accused of elevating negative reviews to higher positions in the results if the company doesn’t pay to advertise on Yelp. As an aside, a court found that even if they were doing that, it wouldn’t be illegal, but it sure makes one question the validity of what you learn. Angie’s List has had similar problems, saying that they’re consumer driven when 70% of their revenue comes from advertising. That makes them less than disinterested information brokers in my book.

Do people really use reviews? A new study by Trustpilot suggests that 88 percent of consumers say that reviews help when deciding what to buy and where to buy it. The study also found, however, that only 18 percent say they think online reviews are actually valid, so do consumers believe them or not? As a business owner, can you believe what you’re reading or not before you think about taking action?

I don’t think there is a simple answer. Most fake reviews are fairly easy to identify. You look at how many other reviews have been written by the author, you check if there are multiple reviews with similar verbiage, etc. I’m a fan of Amazon’s identifier of reviewers who actually purchased the product via Amazon, and some sites let you see if the person has actually checked in. That’s more of a clue for negative reviews in my book. Yelp and other sites are probably more of a help as a consumer than they are as places to conduct business based on some of the alleged shady business practices. Check multiple sites and social media, gather a lot of information and form an opinion based on the preponderance of the evidence (can you tell I hang out with lawyers?).

Actually, that last sentence is probably good advice for anything we do in business, wouldn’t you say?

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Filed under Reality checks, Thinking Aloud

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