How To Figure Out If Moving Reviews Are Real
Twenty years ago, back when I started in the moving industry, there was no Yelp or Google. Believe it or not, people found movers by picking up the phone book and heading to the Yellow Pages. Surprisingly, that wasn’t the worst way to find a mover. The cost and relative permanence of ads essentially ruled out rogue movers, but unless people got a referral from a friend or neighbor, it was still a gamble.
Things have definitely changed. Now, there are entire websites (like Yelp) dedicated to customer reviews for about any business you could imagine. Not to be left out, web giants such as Facebook and Google also collect reviews, and every single site is loaded with fake views, although one site is much better about policing them. So, how do you decide what reviews are legit and which ones are fake?
Ignore Most of Them
When I look at reviews, I generally only glance at the five star and one star reviews. The ends of the spectrum are where you’ll find the fakes. Beyond that, though, 2-4 star reviews are where you’ll generally get a good feel for a company’s strengths and flaws. No move is perfect, and how a company handles their complaints is key.
Some of the fives and ones are real, though. How do you tell? If a five star review is too glowing, or there were no real specifics about the move, it’s likely a fake. It’s the same with negative reviews. If it sounds like there’s a vendetta, or the reviewer didn’t list any specifics, ignore the review.
Much to the frustration of businesses (yes, even those who pay Yelp for advertising), Yelp is famous for muting perfectly legitimate reviews, but overall, their algorithms are the best at screening for fake reviews. Let me reword that. Yelp has algorithms to screen for fake reviews, and of the major review sites, they’re about the only ones. Their algorithms are far from perfect, though, and a lot of fake reviews slip through, but overall, they are the best of the big three at eliminating the fakes.
I lump Google and Facebook together because they are like the Wild West of review sites. They seemingly don’t even try to eliminate fake reviews. While overall, Facebook and Google get a lot more traffic than Yelp, Americans are still more likely to leave a review on Yelp. If you see a moving company (or any business) that has 100s of reviews on Facebook and/or Google, but only a handful on Yelp, you can be almost guaranteed that the vast majority are fake.
For small business owners, online reviews are a must. About 86% of customers read online reviews before making a buying decision. Unfortunately, the system hasn’t completely caught up with the fakes, though. If you are smart, you can figure it all out.