The internet can be overwhelming when it comes to research, especially if you are trying to choose a contractor, vendor, or other service provider. Running a search on any service is likely to result in pages and pages of people who want you to hire them. That’s a good start, but you need to know if you can trust these people not to rip you off.
That’s where reviews, testimonials, and references come into play. They allow you to learn about the past history of a given business so that you can gauge whether they are reliable, proficient, and what you can expect from dealing with them.
What You Can Learn
There is much to be learned from the three common forms of recommendations.
Review sites such as Angie’s List and Yelp and even Google and Facebook, give you a ranking system to see how highly individual businesses rank. Five stars is usually better than one and that’s a great place to start. Just don’t rely on the ranking system to choose who to hire. A business with 75 reviews and a 3-star rating is usually a better bet than one with two reviews and 5-stars. After all those two reviewers could be family or friends trying to boost the business.
Be sure to look at the written reviews as part of your research. These will give you a much deeper understanding of why a specific ranking was given. Someone may have given excellent service and gotten dinged a star or two because the reviewer thought the price was too high. You know what matters to you and reading the reviews can help you figure out who meets your standards.
Careful reading is important with testimonials, too. Or careful listening in the case of video testimonials. Customers who take the time to write about the good service the received fall into two categories: the family and friends type mentioned above, and those that had such a great experience that they want to make sure other people know about this business. It’s the ultimate word of mouth in that these testimonials can appear not just on the company website, but on blogs and even dispersed through social media.
If you are hiring someone for a major project, like a contractor to do a remodel on your home or an accountant to look after your finances, you will want to go the extra step of getting references. These will be former customers who are willing to go beyond the one-time review or testimonial. A quality business is likely to have the contact information for several clients who are willing to answer your questions. This gives you the opportunity to delve even deeper into the parts of the service that matter to you and ask probing questions about not just the work being done, but the level of customer service provided and even the character of the contractor.
Everyone has heard horror stories about the worst mechanic, contractor, and even lawyer in town. But just because someone doesn’t have bad reviews, doesn’t mean they are good enough to handle your business. Unless you’re willing to do your homework, you might as well just flip a coin to choose.
Here’s one example of customer testimonials shared by a storage company