Online reviews can be extremely helpful when you’re trying to make a decision. But what you may not know is that some companies pay to filter their reviews to make themselves look better.

Years ago, how did you make decisions about which restaurant to go to, which movie to see, or which home cleaning service to use?

You probably asked your friends and family to see if they had any recommendations.

“Which maid company do you use?” you might have asked a friend who got their home cleaned weekly. And if no one within your circle had used a certain type of service before, you would have had to rely on things like the yellow pages to help you make your decision.

Today, we have things a lot easier. We can go online and visit sites like Yelp, Google Reviews, and Angie’s List. On each of these sites, you can find dozens of strangers’ experiences with every company in the local area. No longer do you need to rely on word of mouth to inform your decision.

Reviews can be very helpful when you’re choosing between one company and another. And indeed, almost all people say that they give just as much importance to online reviews as they do to a friend’s recommendation.

Whether it’s where to go out to eat, which movie to see, or which cleaning service to use, numbers and star ratings really matter to us.

But should they?

While looking at cleaning service reviews can give you a good overall sense of what your experience is going to be like, that’s not the whole picture. Let’s look at why the numbers and reviews you see on companies’ Yelp and Facebook pages might be off.

Why star ratings can be biased

We tend to look at numbers and data as being unbiased, factual, and informative. But unfortunately, this isn’t always true.

Did you know that there are review services out there that can skew the data that potential customers see? This is how it works:

Companies are able to pay a marketing service to let them filter reviews from their current clients. The service is then able to influence what reviews get put out onto the internet.

The service will send emails to their clients, privately asking for feedback after the company has done their job.

If a client gives a 4- or 5-star review, the service will then go on to encourage the client to post the review on public review sites, like Facebook and Yelp. They’ll even provide convenient links to these sites, making it simple for positive reviews to get cross-posted.

But if the client gives a 1- or 2-star review, the service will respond to the negativity in private. They may address the client’s complaints and solve any issues through email. But they won’t encourage the client to post their feedback anywhere else or to take any further action. The client will have to go seek out the review site links themselves.

This might look good for the company doing it, as it gives them a higher overall rating on public review sites.

But it’s not really fair to potential clients. Using review services can artificially inflate the ratings on review sites, making it likelier that the overall numbers will be higher.

You, as that potential client, deserve to have unbiased information on the service that you’re going to be spending money on. And you trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations from their friends – possibly even more. So trying to make decisions from misleading, skewed cleaning service reviews can impact your trust from the start.

How does Maid to Clean obtain our reviews?

All of our reviews on places like Facebook, Yelp, Angie’s List, and other review sites are organically obtained. We don’t use a review service, which means that we don’t filter out the negative reviews. Everything is written by clients about the true experience that they have had.

We certainly try our best to provide all of our clients with the best service possible, but we’re human, and we’re not perfect 100 percent of the time.

Sometimes, our cleaning service is simply not the best fit for a family, based on budget or other concerns.

And sometimes, as humans, we genuinely make mistakes. We want to grow from them.

But we’re not trying to hide anything, so we choose not to use a review service. We want you to have an honest picture of who we are as a company rather than trying to hide away any faults.

And we know that negative reviews can actually help you make your decision.

Did you know that 85 to 91 percent of all consumers look at those one-star reviews to help them make an informed, well-rounded decision? You’re probably among that number. And we know that trying to hide negativity away would just mean that you wouldn’t be getting the full picture.

We know that you’re a smart person, and that you aren’t just going to select the first service you see, especially when it comes to hiring people to come into your home.

But does all of this mean that we don’t care about reviews?

Of course not. We love hearing the things that people have to say about us, and we make an effort to reply to your feedback online.

We’re proud that we’ve won the Angie’s List Super Service Award five times. We’re proud that we’ve earned top ratings from Washington Consumers’ Checkbook magazine.

We love getting good cleaning service reviews- we care deeply about our clients, and we are happy when they’re happy. It makes us feel good to know that we helped make someone’s moving-out process easier, or that our long-term client has enjoyed our service for years.

But we also respond to any feedback given in not-so-good reviews. We want to correct any errors that we might have made so that we can improve our service in the future.

By taking both positive and negative reviews very seriously, we can continue to serve you and your home as best we can.