Reviews and star ratings are supposed to help new customers understand the pros and cons of any products or service. In an ideal world with no tricks, the average ratings would serve their true purpose, but in today’s age, most of them are rigged. In fact, reviews have become a black hat technique for promoting businesses, or damage competitors’ reputation.
So, does it mean that these analyses from the users’ end are completely useless? Well, yes and no. What we need to understand is, even if there are some products which do have honest reviews, for the most part, what these reviewers are actually doing is subconsciously forcing their confirmation bias in their reviews. In simple words, only the most biased reviewers from either side of the spectrum, negative or positive, really go to the trouble of writing reviews in the first place. This can be reflected from the fact that more than 90% reviews anywhere are either 5 stars or 1 star. And this is exactly how reviews aren’t really helpful.
However, there are a certain few ways where you can objectively tell if the reviews are going to help you in analyzing the product or service. Let’s discuss these in details.
Look for the review contrast
To understand this better, let’s take an example of 2 services, both of which are available with an average rating of 4 stars out of 5 on a certain platform. Now, average ratings alone might be a big trap, and when you understand how, you’ll be able to differentiate fake reviews from the authentic. Rather than simply accepting the average rating, look for the distribution of reviews across the stars. If this average rating is a result of a series of three, four and five-star ratings, you can say he really is worth 4 out of 5 stars. However, if the same aggregate has been obtained only through a series of contrasting 4 and 5-star reviews, you can tell there’s something questionable about this rating. It may be concluded that the negative reviews are coming directly from the clients and to compensate that, reviews have been bombarded with fake glowing ratings.
Avoid Your Own Confirmation Bias
We’ve talked about the confirmation bias of the reviewers, but it’s easier to fall into its trap as a reviewer checker as well. Sometimes we’re so mesmerized by something that we check out the reviews only to solidify our faith in it. This can happen with any one of us. In this trap, we only look for the positive reviews, no matter how few they are, and avoid the negative ratings altogether. If you truly value reviews and want them to guide you for the quality of any product or service, then this isn’t the right strategy.
It’s always so reassuring to see reviews, but as have seen, they can be pretty deceiving. It’s better to avoid falling into the common traps and make the most efficient use of reviews in your favor.