Using Online Ratings Sites
We still ask friends and family for advice when it comes to hiring a company or buying the latest gadget, but we're also turning more often to online ratings and reviews for help in the decision making process.
Angie Hicks, whose company, Angie’s List, helped launch the consumer revolutions to online ratings and reviews, offers advice to consumers and companies using online review sites.
Advice for consumers submitting/reading online reviews:
- It’s your right: Consumers have a right to talk about, write about and post about their honest experiences.
- Be honest: Whether you had a good or bad experience, be sure your report is honest and professional. If the validity of your report is questioned, be prepared to back up your reports with photos, emails, voicemails, etc.
- Sites you can trust: Before taking reports to heart, consumers need to evaluate the credibility of the reviews. Angie’s List doesn’t allow anonymous reports, and we believe this makes posters more responsible in their reports, making the review as credible as possible. So be aware of the sites that allow anonymous reports.
- Beware of bullying: Though it is rare for a company to bully a customer after posting a report, if a consumer is being pressured by a business to remove or change their honest review that is definitely something the consumer would want to share with others on the forum.
Advice for companies reading/responding to online reviews:
- Be involved: It’s important for companies to take part in the online review world because consumers are using it more and more. Review sites have greatly altered the business world. Customers don’t just look up names and numbers of services providers and companies online. They’re reading reviews, comments and ratings to make their hiring decisions.
- No business is perfect: Every company gets a bad review now and then, but smart company leaders will respond to the report and even use that information to improve their service. Many times how a business handles a bad situation is more important to future customers, than just knowing all their customers are happy.
- Keep your cool: The key to responding to a negative review is to keep a cool head. That review may make you angry but take a moment to calm down so you can respond graciously.
How Angie’s List is different:
- Angie’s List has been around for 16 years, and pre-dates the explosion of anonymous online ratings sites and even the use of the Internet as an everyday tool.
- While many online sites allow anonymous ratings and review, Angie’s List does not. Because it is a subscription-based service, Angie’s List can verify who the reviewer is and verify the report.
- Consumers are the only ones who can submit reviews - companies cannot report on themselves.
- Angie’s List encourages companies to respond to reports and offers a free service for companies called Company Connect, which notifies them whenever they have any new report. Additionally, Angie’s List gives the company a chance to respond to reports and give their side of the story as well.
- Angie’s List members who have problems with companies are able to use our Complaint Resolution Service and we’ll work with the company to try and resolve the problem for the consumer.