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Online Reviews: What They Say, What They Don’t?

Whether it is buying a book or a car, securing vouchers for a session at the spa salon or meditation center or placing an order for the latest gizmo that is much in vogue or the yummylicious food at the new bistro down the road, there is one thing that binds the success and failure of all – reviews!

Whatever it is, a single review has the power to uplift or shatter a product and service. Read a few negative reviews about a particular car and your decision to buy it can be swindled easily. On the other hand, just write a positive review about the ambience, food and courteous services of the new bistro and its fate to a glorious future is sealed.

Reviews are powerful, compelling and provide a window to the future prospect of products and services. They are the ultimate deciders of the profit and loss statements of companies and service providers. Reading all this, you may think that buying an offering based on a review can be an easy and effective bet. But we sadly inform you that just like all that glitters in not gold same way, all that reviews post is not sold! There are a few problems with reviews today, but if you carefully mend your ways through them, you can definitely reach ashore. Given here are details of the problems and their solutions of reviews.

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Problems With Online Reviews Today

Transient Data!

Reviews are like those two-minute noodles. It takes two minutes to prepare it and in another two minutes, it becomes a thing of past! Just when a new product hits the town, the world goes gaga about its look, the fanciful exterior, its proficient working than the competitors and its USPs.

But, is it all that we are interested in? What about its long-term performance and its credibility? Nobody talks about that. When buying a specific product, we look for its longevity and endurance but sad enough, reviews miss out on the same!

Too Much Too Confusing!

We give you two situations – you have no choice and you have too much of choice. In both the circumstances, you are left confused. While in the first instance, you are confused as to whether or not you may have a better option later on, in the second instance, the too many options may confuse you as to which probably is the best. The same is with reviews. Presently, there are more than 1000 sites that provide reviews for products and services. As such, finding the authentic one is a task in itself. To add to the woes are the useless reviews that simply rate a product or a service, without mentioning the reason for the same.

Sad Tales!

How many times is it that you have been to a fancy restaurant, loved the food, fell in awe with the ambience, super-liked the services and written a positive review about the same? Now turn the tables! You have just been to that latest lounge that has recently opened. But all that you are welcomed to is a discourteous attendant, a low-key ambience and a poorly presented sizzler tray! Add to this an inflated rate chart! The first thing you do is write a review, of course a criticizing one, about the same. It is generally seen that happy customers aren’t the verbal ones. It is only when things go wrong and the product or service does not live up to the expectations that people go verbal about it. As such, the problem with the reviews is that they more than often present a single side of the story!

Review Fixing!

After match fixing, the latest buzzword is review fixing. Wondering what is that all about? Gone are the days when reviews presented a first-hand experience of clients or customers. Today, companies post a flattering review of themselves just to appear competent and proficient in front of the people. And it is not just this. Competitors to curb the promotion of a particular company come up with a false negative review of it to bring down its reputation. Result – in this Tom and Jerry race, it is the people who are left clueless and oblivious as to which review to believe!

Solutions

Whoever said that reading a review before buying a product or service can be helpful probably turned a blind eye towards the intricacies of the deal? Well, agreed the job is tough but not impossible. Some solution to the abovementioned problems are:

- What do you exactly want? With too much information lying everywhere, zeroing on a single thing becomes complicated. So, focus on your needs and list a few questions that you have regarding the product or service. Find out their answers, ignoring the rest of the details. You may have a clearer picture of the product or service in question.

- Is it real or fake? Adjudging whether the review is a real or a rigged one can be possible if you have an eye for detail. A venting review is one that highlights only the negative points of the offering, but with an emotional touch! A rigged review appears a few days after the launch and provides an unreasonable admiration for the product, while a rival review generally appears a few days after the rigged review and rebuffs the product or a service enthusiastically.

- Are you aware? Not all websites provide real reviews and not all reviewers are reliable! So, the deal is to visit relevant forums when you don’t get the information you require. Questioning a reviewer can also be an effective way for clearing your doubt. If he/she is a genuine person, you can have your doubts cleared all at once.

- Whom to believe? A particular websites provides an overall rating for a product at 3.5/5 based on 30 reviews. Another website rates it at 4.5/5 based on 5 reviews. Reviews that are spread over a large period of time and across countries provide a realistic aspect of a product or service. Also, it reaffirms the fact that the product has maintained its standard over a stretch of period.

- Does it provide the WHY? A review that simple states that a particular product or service has received 4 out of 5 stars is of no use unless it gives an account as to why did a particular product or service receive the same. Only those that explain the WHY are helpful reviews. Watch out for them!

Steer through the clouds of doubt and make your way for a brighter and clearer picture. And when that is done, you would be blessed with a well-researched and value-for-money product or service!

About the Author: This article has been compiled by Sanjay Virmani. He is the Co- founder of Banyan Tree Infomedia LLP which has one of the largest network of portals.  The above write up is a synthesis of his experience in managing varied ecommerce portals such as www.awesomeji.com

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