If you’re going to make a purchase online, you probably want to know you can trust the company. One of the easiest ways to ascertain trust is by reading customer reviews.
Although not all reviews will accurately reflect the company’s trustworthiness, you can get an idea of a company’s reliability when you read enough reviews.
Can online reviews be trusted?
You might be wondering if you can trust online reviews. For the most part, you can trust reviews. However, you also need discernment.
Inc.com reported that a whopping 84% of consumers trust online reviews the same way they trust their friends. That could be good or bad news for a business depending on the kind of reviews they’ve received.
If you’re one of the 84% of people who completely trust online reviews, you probably make purchase decisions based on the reviews you read. However, not all reviews are legitimate. Positive reviews can be written by people paid to post a scripted response.
Similarly, negative reviews (including verified purchases) can be written by competitors, enemies, and customers who are impossible to please.
To avoid making a bad purchase decision based on fake reviews, read reviews on the following four websites and analyze the content of those reviews as a whole.
1. The Better Business Bureau (BBB)
There’s nothing more reassuring than buying from a company that displays the BBB “Accredited Business” logo on their website. That’s what you’ll find when you buy from a company like BTOD, for example. BTOD sells office furniture and has an A+ rating from the BBB.
Although the BBB is considered the top authority for discerning a trustworthy business, it’s hard for businesses to get customer reviews on the BBB website. Read the reviews, but also consider the business’ overall rating. Then, keep that in mind when reading reviews on the remaining three sites listed below.
Trustpilot has become one of the best sources for authentic reviews online. It’s also one of the easiest review sources to integrate into a website or follow-up email.
However, there is a downside to Trustpilot. A massive study was undertaken to analyze 9 million Trustpilot reviews and found that the system is a little too easy to manipulate. Trustpilot allows users to flag reviews for violating rules that don’t all seem to be flag-worthy. For example, a review can get flagged if it describes product functionality or mentions someone’s name.
The door is wide open for businesses to engage in review-flagging abuse, which can severely misrepresent the customer experience. Peter Mühlmann, Trustpilot’s founder and CEO, is aware of the problem and is actively working on a resolution.
Still, TrustPilot is extremely popular, and although it may not be 100% trustworthy yet, you can still extract some great information from reviews on this platform. For example, if you need to find out specific details about a product that can only come from experience, you might find those details on Trustpilot.
Yelp has gained an incredible amount of traction over the years. While some reviews are long-winded, you’ll find some gems on Yelp.
The best way to dissect reviews on yelp is to search for keywords related to common problems you’d expect to have with the goods or services you’re buying from the business. For example, if you’re checking out a coffee shop, search for the word “stale” and “overpriced.”
The idea is to look for the obvious and common negative keywords that would tell you if that particular business might have a serious problem.
To spot fake reviews, you can look at user profiles to see if they have a pattern of leaving excessively negative or positive reviews or if they leave reviews for businesses all over the country. These could be signs of fraudulent reviews.
4. Google My Business
Google My Business is rated number one in the U.S. on Alexa. The site gets more than 155 million visitors each month. Since most people trust Google and Google’s products, GMB reviews can be considered reliable. Again, discernment is key.
Honorable mention: Amazon
While Amazon is filled to the brim with millions of customer reviews, it’s also the most susceptible to hosting fake reviews. Customers can review products and companies without making a direct purchase. This can be extremely helpful, since there are other ways people can purchase those products. However, it can work against the consumer when people are paid to post fake reviews.
Beware of fake reviews
Although these platforms are good resources, be aware that fake reviews are a major problem. Fake reviews aren’t always easy to spot, but if you read enough reviews from real people, it will get easier.
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