When you’re planning to move house, how do you find a good removal company? Twenty or thirty years ago, you probably
would have looked in the Yellow Pages or relied on word of mouth. These days however, you are more likely to look at online reviews. It has to be said that most review sites are a fantastic resource for consumers, and have a lot going for them:
- They are free to use
- You can browse reviews anytime – day or night
- As they are written by other customers, they are generally pretty trustworthy
- They can help you to shortlist preferred companies very quickly
From the point of view of removals companies, they also have a range of benefits. If service levels are good, once a company has built up a number of positive reviews they are a very powerful marketing tool. In effect, they encourage customers to influence potential customers, which shortens the sales process. They are also valuable in terms of providing feedback to the management team on quality. Managers can’t go out on every job, but tracking the positive and negative reviews the company receives can help to identify their strongest and weakest team members, and prompt them to allocate additional training where needed.
In an ideal world, online reviews are a wonderful resource which are 100% win win for consumer and company alike. However, the system isn’t completely fool-proof, and if people are intent on manipulating it, companies can lose out and consumers can be misled. If you want to be a more savvy shopper when it comes to online reviews, here are a few things to consider when looking for that all important star rating:
- Review blackmail
In the last few years, we have experienced more and more instances of ‘review blackmail’, and yes, it’s exactly as unpleasant as it sounds. We do a job for a customer, and even though everything goes perfectly, the customer contacts us claiming that there were extensive damages and if we don’t give them a refund then they will post a negative review. This behaviour is heart-breaking for our hardworking and highly-trained crews, and can be devastating for sales figures when all removals companies now rely so heavily on internet reviews. Obviously when a customer has a genuine complaint, we do everything we can to rectify the situation. With a central Head Office as well as over 40 UK and international branches, complaints can be escalated to group level if needed, and where problems have occurred, we are known for going to great lengths to make things right. However, as a group we do not give in to review blackmail, so spurious negative reviews do pop up from time to time, and can be very difficult to spot.
- Skulduggery by competitors
Now this one sounds a bit paranoid, but we’re afraid it does happen more than you would think. When things are quiet in the removals trade, lots of companies are all chasing the same jobs. Instead of focussing on their own unique selling points, some people respond by badmouthing their competitors, either in person or online. Their fake reviews typically give only one star, but very little (if anything) by way of justification, and unfortunately, they are almost impossible to have removed from the various review sites. Advice? Treat unexplained one star reviews with extreme caution.
We all love a good moan from time to time, and we all know a few people who love to complain. The serial whingers are out there, and in the internet age, all companies suffer at their hands. Often they are looking for top quality service at bargain prices, and the slightest perceived imperfection will be enough to have them firing up their laptop. To filter out this type of review, don’t just look at the star rating, actually read what they have written (grab a cuppa, it’s likely to be a long one). Do their issues sound reasonable, or are they making a mountain out of a molehill?
- Which site to use?
There are so many different review sites out there, you can’t get a representative picture by just looking at one of them. Google reviews, uk.trustpilot.com, www.referenceline.com, www.removalreviews.co.uk …the list goes on and on. Because people are generally more likely to leave a review if they’ve had a bad experience, most companies are now trying to be more proactive in getting online reviews from all of their customers to achieve some balance. Naturally they will be focussed on a handful of review sites though, as they can’t possibly promote the use of every single one. This means that if you look at Trustpilot but the company asks their customers to give feedback via Google or Removal Reviews, then you’ll see a very unrepresentative selection of reviews. For this reason, it’s worth either checking a few sites, or looking at the company’s website to see which review sites they use.
By this point you may be thoroughly disenchanted with online review sites, and wondering when the Yellow Pages will make a comeback. Sorry! There is some good news though – if you follow our top tips for evaluating online reviews, you should get a clearer picture of which companies are top when it comes to service.
- Look at the number of reviews
As we’ve already said, the odd bad review does creep in, and they aren’t all justified, so look for quantity first and foremost. The larger the number of reviews, the more you can trust that the majority of them at least will be genuine. A 4 star rating generated from 80 reviews should carry more weight than a 5 star rating generated from 11 reviews.
- Look for customer service clues
When somebody has left a negative review, has the company responded? Obviously with thousands of reviews over multiple platforms, it won’t be possible for the company to respond every time, but if you can find an example of this, it should give you a good flavour of their customer service.
- Use social media to judge the company ethos and responsiveness
As well as review sites, check out the company’s social media presence as well. This should give you an insight into their company ethos, how active they are online, and how responsive they are to their customers.
In short, don’t forget that online reviews are a useful tool, but they shouldn’t be your only way of making a decision. We always recommend that you request two or three quotes (based on a survey in person or by video call, not an internet form), and make your decision based on those.
Good luck with the decision making, and happy moving!