Editor's Note

Four Stars!

Thanks to the Web, anyone with an Internet connection can now publish their opinions of hotels, restaurants, service organizations, retail businesses…even, as I discovered during jury duty-related research, courthouses and prisons. (A one-star Yelp rating of a jail in my hometown scolds, “It only takes one or two people to cause a business, or in this case a facility, to receive a bad mark.”)

Of course, there are potential hazards to making decisions based on the content of online ratings services, as they’re called. Businesses have been known to boost ratings by posting fake reviews. A September 2013 Consumer Reports story pointed out how cumulative scores might be skewed by a business’ willingness to advertise on the review site or to aggressively recruit customers to post positive comments.

Even if none of those shenanigans are taking place, can you take away anything useful from reviews by complete strangers? Entrepreneur Peter Shankman wrote last August that Yelp would in effect die within two years because Yelp users were increasingly realizing the fallibility of reviews by strangers who were possibly being bought off .

Who are consumers more likely to trust? Members of their social networks: family, friends, colleagues.

But even that strategy has a drawback. Who hasn’t gotten conflicting movie reviews from friends? Haven’t you ever loved a restaurant only to hear your significant other vow never to return?

So a brighter idea might be to use reviews and ratings as potential data points rather than defining ones. Step 1: Look for relevant details in reviews. Skip the review that says, “This hotel is absolutely sprawling” and focus on the one that says, “From our room, the lobby was a 15-minute walk away, and the pool was a 10-minute walk over level terrain with two young kids and grandma in tow.” Step 2: Based on your specific needs and preferences, decide if those distances are too far or within reason.

That’s also how we suggest you view this year’s ATP & Clinician Best Picks (page 20). In complex rehab, no one product is going to work for every client. And a product that does work for two clients might do so for different reasons: It was a perfect fit for the first client, but also worked for the second client because the product could be adjusted, tweaked or used in tandem with another product to solve a perplexing problem.

That’s one reason our story participants gave for naming a product a Best Pick. Others cited responsive, timely customer service, surely appreciated by today’s multi-tasking seating & mobility professionals. Our Best Picks fit well into client environments and lifestyles. They’re durable and easy to maintain. They offer solutions to clients of different ages and sizes. They’re good looking. They’re well made, with attention paid to the smallest details.

As you read your colleagues’ comments, keep in mind which factors — customer service and follow-up, disassembly and portability, versatility, light weight, quick turnaround — are most important to you and your particular clients. Then see if any of these Best Picks could help your clients as well.

Of course, our Best Picks do all have one thing in common: In combination with the skills and talents of the seating & mobility team, these products have made consumers and their families happy.

My personal thanks to every clinician and ATP who took the time to write in with their thoughts. And if you have your own Best Pick, don’t keep it to yourself.

This article originally appeared in the July 2014 issue of Mobility Management.

About the Author

Laurie Watanabe is the editor of Mobility Management. She can be reached at lwatanabe@1105media.com.

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