Saturday, February 7, 2015

3 Reasons to Read Online Reviews before Hiring Them

Before the advent of the Internet in the mid-1990s, people conducted business on a face-to-face basis or by speaking on the phone. Many times, customers could gather a lot of information about the integrity and reliability of a company by simply walking through the front door of the company's retail store or offices. When people realized the power of the internet, companies began doing more business online and personal contact was sacrificed. 

Advantages and Disadvantages of Doing Business Online One of the primary advantages of using the Internet to advertise and/or conduct business is the ability to efficiently and effectively reach more people. The related advertising costs savings for many businesses have been significant enough to help business owners expand into other areas with other services or products. However, nothing comes without a price. The price of interacting business over the Internet is losing the ability to get a gut feel for how a business operates. For many consumers, that's a significant disadvantage. 

A New Level of Trust It's quite remarkable that so many Americans are willing to transact business online. The amount of trust that comes with ordering goods and services without physical contact between parties has absolutely changed the way that customers interact with retailers and service providers. When you factor in the notion that most customers are going to offer up personal information and access to their credit/debit cards in the process, it elevates the need for trust far beyond anything that was ever required pre-Internet. Researching Before Buying It's sad to say, but there are far too many predatory companies operating in the business world, especially on the Internet. Unscrupulous businesses have been around for centuries, but the Internet provides a substantial curtain behind which they can operate. The fact remains that customers have an obligation to themselves and/or their businesses to do the proper levels of due diligence prior to purchasing goods or services no matter where they purchase them. This isn't a new notion. 

The Better Business Bureau has been operating since 1912. It's a non-profit organization that provides ratings for companies in almost every industry. That said, the Internet has made it easier to research companies via a wide range of other watchdog and review sites that provide information about companies and the way they conduct business. Best Ways to Avoid Commerce Issues If an individual is planning on hiring a company to provide services, they need to make sure the services offered come as advertised and that the people offering those services are qualified to do so. If they are looking to purchase products, they need to know the products being sold are real, reliable and come with some sort of guarantees and/or protection such as good customer service. Keeping in mind that no method is going to be 100% reliable, the three most popular methods for determining the reliability of a retailer or service provider are: 
• Word of mouth from friends, family or acquaintances. 
• Business ratings from organizations like the BBB and Consumer Reports. 
• Online reviews provided by review sites like Google Places, Yellow Pages, Yelp, Trip Adviser, etc. 

Over the past several years, online reviews have increased in popularity. According to BrightLocal's 2013 consumer survey, it was determined that 85% of Internet users were reading online reviews prior to hiring or purchasing. Also, it was reported that 79% of respondents say they trust those reviews. While online reviews are subject to some scrutiny for a variety of reason, they still provide a useful tool for choosing the best companies with which to do business. The three most important reasons to read online reviews are: 
1. Help Identify Potential Rogue Companies - If you see a negative comment or two about a particular company, you should take note and perhaps contact the company about what those reviews are saying. By doing this, you offer them a chance to explain prior to eliminating them as a prospect. If you see reviews that indicate a company might be involved in some type of unethical or criminal business practices, you should simply move on and find another company to use. There are plenty of reliable companies that provide goods and services in every industry. There is no sense in taking unwarranted risks. 
2. Gain Confidence in The Company's Reputation - It becomes quite reassuring when you consistently read positive reviews about a company with which you are considering doing business. When you hire a company under these circumstance, you are awarded great peace of mind that you are going to get what you're paying for as advertised. This helps provide great rationale for your hiring or purchasing decision. 
3. Time Savings - It might take a significant amount of time to call enough references and referrals. Also, the company is assuredly going to point you in the direction of only satisfied customers. 

Online reviews give you a place to go where you can read a number of diversified opinions in one place at one time. These reviews are being offered by folks who are freely taking the time to offer advice with nothing to lose or gain. This makes the decision making process easier to complete. When providers and consumers do business, some level of trust comes into play. The tools are in place to protect consumers if they know where to look and want to protect themselves. Online reviews are becoming the most prominent method for consumers to go for meaningful advice. This is a great tool that shouldn't be ignored. 

Bio: Brad Smith is CEO and co-founder of Rescue One Financial, headquartered in Irvine, California. Rescue One Financial helps individuals resolve unsecured debt during troubling times and have settled over $3.1B in debt. Brad's 18-year financial services career includes Wall Street with Merrill Lynch, where he helped pioneer the restricted stock diversification business at Morgan Stanley.
Smith still holds all of his licenses today (Series 7, 31, 63, and 65).

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