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Improving product and customer service reviews

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It seems that everywhere you look online that there are customer service reviews alongside businesses or products you are considering visiting or buying. Yelp, TripAdvisor, and countless more. But, lately, I am growing more skeptical of the value of these as they can be "gamed." Without a critical eye for the wording, seemingly amazing restaurants, hotels, products and more are instantly transformed into the worst possible purchasing decision you could make. Really?

There have even been some cases recently of fake TripAdvisor representatives shaking down restaurant owners and threatening them with bad customer service reviews if they don't offer a free meal or other giveaway. This is simply wrong. Fortunately, as I read in INC magazine recently, there is an emerging player, Stella Service, that is taking both a "mystery shopper" and analytical approach to rating business performance. The article says it all.

Using fundamental metrics, such as average hold times on the phone, or time it takes to process a return, and 348 others, Stella is able to gauge the quality of a company in how it treats its customers using analytics. I think that's an excellent approach.

Don't get me wrong, I like to read reviews of hotels and the like just to get some idea of one's experiences, but since humans are generally more apt to report negative, than positive experiences, that person might be just a complainer. Similarly, extremely glowing reviews may be the work of insiders trying to push positive customer reviews for their benefit. The bottom line is, online customer service reviews serve a purpose, but in my opinion can be quite manipulated unless they are heavily policed. It's better to take the "human" aspect out of the equation a bit and let the numbers do the talking.

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