If you've ever bought anything online, you've more than likely gone searching for reviews about a business. Based on your findings, it's likely to have heavily influenced whether you followed through with your purchase. However, should you trust a collection of random strangers thoughts?
Here's what I think...
From a business perspective, customer reviews play an important role as 88 percent of consumers rely on and trust online reviews in making their online purchase decisions.
Here at Loadbalancer.org, we use several platforms to provide our customers the means to leave honest, unbiased reviews including Reviews.io, Gartner, IT Central Station, Capterra and Google - and for the most part are overwhelmingly positive. In over six hundred reviews, we currently have a 4.89 average out of five star reviews.
In my opinion this is quite an achievement and it also proves that we, as a company, care about the products we develop and the customers we serve. Here's an example of this below...
If we receive a bad or "negative" review at Loadbalancer.org, we use it as an opportunity to do better. After analysing the problem, informing the relevant departments, and correcting any inaccuracies, we make sure to respond to the review promptly. In my time at Loadbalancer.org, we have never been afraid to admit to our mistakes and attempt to make things right with the customer. In fact, it is our company ethos!
Reviews are not just about star ratings, they are an opportunity to share your overall experience. "It just works" or even worse "Thanks" are mediocre and gives no intrinsic insight to any business on why you gave them five stars (or one for that matter).
A number of review platforms have little procedures in place to ensure valid, honest reviews are taken in to consideration. This means that you will generally find a collection of comments that most of the time may not even relate to the product or service you're inquiring. Furthermore, you may also find that that the majority of reviews are positive but have been left by businesses who choose to exploit these platforms by using paid services to increase their overall star ratings. The BBC briefly looked in to this matter - you can read about it here.
Now, let me tell you about a review that I left...
I recently purchased a game (SWG for those who care) from eBay which arrived to the office in terrible shape - so as anyone would, I left an appropriate (negative) review. However, the seller was not pleased and took it upon himself to find where I work and leave a review on our company Google profile:
After doing some digging, I found that the same seller had also left a review for someone else (also an eBay buyer I assume) on their Google business profile:
This just shows the sheer pettiness of this individual to bring this matter to my work place. People are weird...
With that being said, there are platforms that have implemented means to ensure that only valid and trusted reviews are taken in to consideration.
Reviews.io, one of the platforms Loadbalancer.org uses, provides the option so that only verified real customers can leave a reviews. This completely disregards Internet trolls and only allows for valued customers to leave their remarks.
Gartner PeerInsights on the other hand takes Reviews.io's approach but also has one of their employees read each submitted review to ensure that it meets their basic review criteria. This ultimately means that each confirmed review has enough content and meaning providing a trustworthy, fair overall company rating.
As well as providing additional measures to ensure only genuine reviews are considered, they also provide tools to both customers and businesses. For example, this company comparison tool:
Reviews play a significant role for both businesses and customers, however, as seen by my eBay altercation you shouldn't trust a business solely based off their five star rating. There are review platforms such as Reviews.io and Gartner that provide additional measures to ensure that valid, honest reviews are taken in to consideration and present a genuine identity for a business.
At Loadbalancer.org we are proud with the products and services we provide and strive to do better by allowing our customers to share their honest opinions.
So can you trust online reviews? Yes, but remember to do your research and make an educated decision on what to believe in.