The danger of relying too heavily on local business review sites

11Jun10

Like many people, I use review sites like Yelp to help make decisions about local businesses. For instance, is this new restaurant actually any good, or does that doctor treat their patients well? However, a few recent experiences have reminded me that good reviews are no guarantee that a business will deliver on your expectations.

Let me put this another way. As a consumer, it’s easy to assume that a business is competent just because they have friendly staff and tend to get great reviews. However, a high star rating doesn’t necessarily mean the business is actually any good at what they do, beyond the superficial first impressions.

Sure, this is all common sense. But it certainly bears repeating in a time when customer reviews can make or break some types of local businesses. As consumers, it’s important to stay viligant and not blindly trust online reviews. In other words, try to make your own judgements about whether a given business or service provider can be relied upon. Even if 99% of reviewers think a business is great, you should use your own intuition to decide if that business is actually competent and trustworthy, or if they’re just using strong people skills to mask their incompetence.



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