It’s no secret that the online review industry isn’t perfect. But we believe that customers deserve a voice, and businesses deserve a place where they can listen. So we’d much rather tackle the industry’s challenges head on than accept a world without online review communities!
In light of Amazon’s recent lawsuit, the debate surrounding the trustworthiness of online reviews has taken center stage - not just within the industry, but also within the media generally.
Sure, nobody likes to hear bad things about their business, and we’re no exception. But as one of the world’s largest online review communities, it’s a fact of life. And like it or not, we embrace it. In fact, we’re actively listening and participating in the debate, because we truly believe in the value of an open and honest conversation.
That’s also why we’d like to take this opportunity to share with you why we’re working so hard to make reviews a part of every shopping experience.
The value of an open conversation
First of all, we really believe in what we do. Reviews give consumers a voice and the information they contain helps people make more informed decisions when shopping. For example, if Will’s 10th birthday is coming up and his Mom finds an online store that stocks that great new computer game he’s been wanting for ages, Will’s Mom can scan reviews of the store to get a quick indication as to whether they tend to deliver orders correctly and on time. Because nobody wants to see Will miss out on his birthday present.
Reviews also allow businesses to enter into an honest dialog with their customers and use the feedback they gain to improve their services. Companies may well discover that their customers see things very differently to their staff!
It’s this kind of open conversation that we believe delivers real value. And an open conversation requires that consumers are able to voice their opinion without too much red tape. That’s why we’ve designed the Trustpilot community to allow everyone to take part in the conversation easily - and for free.
The advantage of believing in our reviewers
Yes, we could gate our community and make people jump through hoops by requiring countless authentications in order to post a review. But that would lead to a dramatic drop in the number of reviews. It would also take away one of the huge benefits of a platform where consumers can share their opinion freely, easily and quickly. Just as an example, one of our Trustpilot employees recently saw a guy pull out his iPad on his train ride to work and post an online review. It only took him two minutes and the information was instantly shared with millions of users. If we’d required him to go through a series of verifications in order to write his review, he probably wouldn’t have been able to do it during a short train ride. It’s this level of convenience that would disappear if we kept our review community under lock and key.
We see particular value in a high number of reviews. Greater review volume provides a more nuanced and accurate picture, much like adding layers and texture to a painting. The more comments, anecdotes and tips people share about their experiences, the easier it is to figure out whether a company deserves your precious time and money. So there’s really no question that keeping our review community accessible will deliver far more value than tacking on restrictions that frustrate users and lead to fewer reviews.
And importantly, we know that the vast majority of reviewers are well-intentioned and use and contribute to the system in just the way it was designed. They’re here to share genuine experiences so that others can benefit, learn and make up their own minds.
The benefit of having everything in one place
To understand the real value of an open review community, let’s take a step back. Before review portals, user opinions were scattered all over the internet. They were in small fora, blogs (often sponsored by businesses), newsgroups, online news media and so on. Because they were so spread out, it was almost impossible to collect useful information and extract anything meaningful.
Fast forward to today, and we now have one common place where you’re able to share your opinion and read other users’ opinions. Gathering everyone’s feedback in one place creates a more powerful resource.
The power of the community
Did you know?70% of consumers consider themselves extremely or very discerning in deciding whether to trust an online review, and 94% say they can spot a trustworthy reviewer? That makes our reviewers one of our strongest weapons in the fight against misuse.
Trustpilot is backed by a strong community of users that have access to the tools they need to help us weed out fake reviews and bad apples. We believe that the strength of our community will expose companies trying to game the system. We also use customized fraud detection software that works around the clock to root out potentially fake reviews, and we have a full-time Compliance Team who investigate any reported misuse.
In any community, there’s bound to be a few bad apples that try to spoil it for the rest of us. But they only make up a small fraction compared to the thousands of genuine, helpful reviews that are posted every day. Our belief in the overall value of reviews is the reason we come to work. And we’re not about to let a few fake reviews or a small number of fraudulent businesses get in our way.
We’re not giving up!
The recent debate about online reviews has only strengthened our resolve to keep improving our community so that the genuine reviews receive the focus they deserve, and continue to help improve online shopping for consumers and businesses around the globe.
We know that we’ve got some work to do, but we’re a determined bunch who believe strongly in our products and services. So watch this space!