Making shopping experiences better for everyone
Joakim Ditlev

Don’t Buy, Bribe or Blackmail for Quality Reviews – Just Ask!

By on Monday, April 16th, 2012 in Online reviews

Reviews clearly add value to your business. Once you start seeing what value it brings, you will go far to get as much quality reviews as possible – and preferably with good ratings too, of course. But there is a fine line on how far you can go, when getting your customers for feedback. Buying, bribing or even threatening your customer backslaps on the quality of your reviews and your overall reputation. But what methods work when collecting reviews? And when do you know when you crossed the line?

If you are doing a good honest job by serving your customers well and asking them gently for reviews, you are among the majority of professional users on Trustpilot. So you may wonder: Why even considering things like bribing for reviews?

Collecting reviews in extreme ways

I’m not encouraging you to do so. By no means! But you would be surprised to learn about what creative methods we have seen companies apply in the hunt for more reviews. Paying for reviews – which we consider as bribe and don’t look easily upon – happens sometimes.

One of the more extreme cases was this small business owner: He delivered the products including a message to the customer that he would not send any written guarantee, unless they left a quality review with top ratings on Trustpilot. Some of his customers told us, and soon he was banned from using the review service.

But such episodes happen because reviews play a big role in the buying process. Recently, a study found that 52% of consumers are more likely to buy from a company if they have positive reviews. In fact, online reviews are now the second most important factor when making buying decisions – right after personal recommendations.

Quality reviews should not have a price tag

Quality reviews - don't bribe or buyBut just because online reviews can turn into a sale, it does not mean that they should have a price tag. And it definitely does not mean that buying reviews is acceptable. On the other hand, you may want to give your customers a stronger incentive to give you a review. Entering raffles or contests for writing a review is okay, and a method that some companies on Trustpilot are using to get the quantity of reviews up. But there is a fine line and the grey zone begins when there is a direct award offered for a review. Giving vouchers or gift cards away in exchange for a review is similar to buying reviews. There are a lot of reasons why you should stay away from that:

  • Users will find out and alert that your reviews are not to be trusted.
  • You risk a PR scandal and potential damage to your brand and overall business reputation.
  • Buying reviews is actually against EU law.
  • We don’t tolerate buying reviews on Trustpilot.

If you use contests as a part of collecting reviews, it has to be clear that all kinds of reviews can qualify – not just the good ones. Picking a winner that has left a negative review could actually end up boosting your credibility. But remember, just by asking all your customers to leave a review will give good results.

Solid after-sales improves quality of reviews

Aggressive methods are also bad for the quality of the reviews. If customers write reviews just to get a reward, they don’t put their hearts into it. Expect brief reviews that do not go into details about the actual buying experience and as a result as more useless for potential customers, who are checking up on your level of service.

Just like flowers in the spring and robins that sing, the best things in life are free. And I bet you increase the quality of reviews, by serving your customers well. Ask humbly what they think about doing business with you, and integrate that as a part of your after-sales and you will see the reviews coming in.

Simply ask to get quality customer reviews

We rely on our active community who are writing and reporting lots of reviews on Trustpilot every day. They actively help us spot when unusual things happen – it gets reported and our team of supporters investigate what is going and take the necessary actions. So don’t try any of this at home. We will find out and in the long run the quality of your reviews is much better, if you simply ask your customers.

But please feel free to disagree or comment on, where you think the line goes between what is bribe and what is a good incentive for leaving a review.

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Speak your mind!

  1. nick says:

    OK?

    And how do you fight the fake reviews?
    Have seen that some of the company listed in trustpilot have like 300 five star reviews and the company has started only 1 year before ???

    Kinda wierd i think?
    All the reviews is submited daily? Still no alarm bell?

    Hope you can fight the fake reviews!

    • Good point. Someone who wants to get one over on you can easily damage your reputation without you even knowing

    • Joakim Ditlev says:

      Thanks for your questions, Nick.

      We do quite a lot to ensure the review quality. You can read more about it here:
      http://blog.trustpilot.com/ensures-review-quality/

      The company you refer to is most likely using our Automatic Feedback Service to invite all customers to write reviews x days after they bought something. But if the reviews look to good to be true, you are welcome to click “report”, so one of our community supporters can investigate the issue.
      Consumers as well as companies can report a review infringement of our review guidelines and we look carefully into all reported reviews.

      • Max_B says:

        As a business you can’t report an issue with fake damaging reviews on TRUSTPILOT without signing up for a B2B account… and as part of that process you must agree to TRUSTPILOT’S terms and conditions, in which you agree to your rights being limited.

        I’ve just past the matter to our solicitor on Friday… as agreeing to your terms and conditions actually limits our rights to take action action against TRUSTPILOT.

        Personally I think your company is like a leech on the back of e-commerce… Some companies rightly feel forced to pay you, to limit the damage to them caused by damaging reviews…

        it’s win win for TRUSTPILOT…

        1)You provide no control or verification mechanisms for customer reviews of companies who are not signed up to TRUSTPILOT. So they gather bad reviews.

        2)You provide a limited feedback, and verification mechanism if the company agrees to limit it’s legal rights.

        3)You provide advantageous control and verification mechanisms for companies who pay you.

    • Hi Nick,
      As a Trustpilot using company, I can state beyond any doubt, that it is quite possible to get 300 5-star rewievs in a year. And without cheating.

      Even though I will not share my rating-percentage in public (the number of customers rating the shop as opposed to those who do not), I can tell you, that if you do a good job and give good service to your customers, they appreciate it. And they like to share this appreciation on trustpilot, if you just ask.

      So it just takes 1 review every day to make it to 365 rewievs in a year.

      Many shops have a lot more that 1 customer per day. And most shops that give good service, will be able to get these 5-star rewievs.

      The difficult part is to stay sharp and not mess up.

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