Today the average service/medical business has become savvy to consumer marketing techniques and some use social media including Yelp, Google. Facebook for managing their online business presence. Consumers also depend on these reviews a lot.

So the question is how do you assess whether a Dentist/Framing Shop/Other Service business is actually going to be trustworthy in the long term and treat you as a long-term customer from Day 1?

The old school way of getting a referral from your trusted contact is always the best but people move jobs, homes, cities. It's not always an option. I've got a few thoughts on what works and what doesn't that's grounded in reverse engineering marketing techniques I have seen.

Typically, the source of the reviews matters. How is the review company/website making money - look to understand this to understand whether you can trust the reviews?

Second, look for the number of reviews. If it's not over 20+ - either the business is new/doesn't care/hasn't modernized/not a place you want to go since people have avoided giving reviews.

Third, look for the quality of reviews. Typically, fake reviews are easy to spot since they look very similar, have users that seem to be reviewing a host of items and don't have a clear digital profile. Reviews also fall into two categories - the 1-2 star reviews or the 5-star reviews. They are both worth reading to understand what drove the low ratings and why someone took the time to write them. The business response, in this case, is also telling. For the five star reviews, there are three ways this could occur - paid, asked for by business owner from a happy customer, self-written. Try to find the self-written ones, the more there are, the more likely the ratings truly reflect the business. The happy customer requested reviews are also OK but should be a secondary source of confirmation.

Also, completely avoid influencer marketing - paid reviews/promotions are usually a red flag.

Finally, after you have shortlisted your business/company etc., give them a call and interact with them to get a sense of your own.

Putting all this together usually avoids bad experiences with businesses.

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