If you’ve been considering partnering with an answering service, you’re probably knee-deep in reviews by now.

It can get really confusing when different people have such wildly difference experiences with the same company, but it is possible to cut through the fog and make sense of answering service reviews.

We’ve put together a short list of tips to help you get started.

Remember That We’re All Only Human

The biggest thing to keep in mind when you’re checking out online reviews of answering services is that people are far more inclined to complain than they are to praise a company for doing something good.

A 2014 study by American Express found that customers were 2.6 times more likely to talk about a negative experience than a positive experience with a company. Furthermore, NewVoiceMedia discovered that 59 percent of the people they surveyed would take some action against a company if they experienced poor customer service even once!

With that in mind, here are some tips to help you navigate answering service reviews a little easier:

  1. Aim for the middle ground. There will always be some glowing answering service reviews and some terrible, awful, no good reviews for any business of any consequence.

    People have wildly different expectations and experiences in life. Try to ignore the extremes and instead keep your eye on the middle of the road. What are the bulk of the reviews saying? Are they mostly positive or negative? It’s just like buying a pair of shoes on Amazon, not every answering service will be a perfect fit for everyone.

  2. Note how companies respond. Many review sites allow companies to directly respond to their customers and critics.

    This is actually where you can find some really good information on what it’s going to be like to work with a particular answering service. If your answering service prospect can keep their cool in the face of the harshest critic, you can probably count on them to be total professionals. But don’t let this override overwhelming evidence to the contrary if it’s out there.

  3. Check the dates. Another big signal on reviews is the date of the review.

    You might notice that your answering service prospect had a rocky start, but worked really hard to fix its problems and get on track. Or, the situation could be flipped and they were once really stellar, but aren’t all that great now. It’s important to see where your answering service has been, so you can try to reliably predict where it’s going. An answering service that’s had a stable history is one that you can certainly count on to remain stable over the long haul.

Answering service reviews can be confusing, especially if customers have had very different experiences with the same company. It may help to compare reviewing companies to your own in size and scope in order to try to imagine what it might be like if you were to work with the answering service potential in question.