Trends in Trust

The importance of an open review platform during social distancing

Tuesday, May 19, 2020
The importance of an open review platform during social distancing

How we receive trustworthy information has changed dramatically since the global COVID-19 oubreak.

We are no longer leaning over water coolers to discuss an experience at a new restaurant with colleagues. Friends aren’t recommending their latest online purchase to us over dinner at that new restaurant. Anecdotal evidence from trusted sources disappeared almost overnight yet, everyday, consumers are being exposed to unfamiliar online experiences.

Trustpilot recently commissioned behavioral insights and research agency Canvas8 to explore what role reviews play in Internet trust. From over 6,000 respondents in the US, UK and France, we learned that friends and family are the number one trusted source for reviews and referrals across all three countries. Schools and educational institutions rank number three in the US and UK, and number two in France.

But what happens when access to these trusted sources of information quickly become less accessible? In the same survey mentioned above, we found that consumer review websites are the second most trusted group in the US and UK, and ranked fourth in France. At Trustpilot, we understand this means we have a bigger role to play and as an open review platform, it is our responsibility to help consumers navigate these uncertain and unprecedented times.

Remember to check this BEFORE making purchases

An open review platform is critical for consumer trust in businesses

On an open review platform, anyone who has an experience with a business can leave their feedback for the company to respond to, and for others to read. This allows feedback to come from anyone who has had a legitimate experience with a business. Anyone is free to write a review of a transaction, but can also leave feedback on user experience, business operations, customer service experience etc., even if a transaction hasn’t occurred.

Reading real reviews on an open review platform, as opposed to reading reviews that have potentially been censored on a closed review platform, increases transparency and allows you to buy with confidence during a period of recurring uncertainty.

Trustpilot also lets you be heard by businesses that need your feedback, regardless of whether or not you’ve completed a transaction with the business. Businesses that are adapting to a rapidly changing marketplace can take feedback from anyone who has had an experience and is willing to leave feedback on an open review platform.

But perhaps most importantly is how Trustpilot can fill a critical gap as we become increasingly isolated. When trust in business is at an all time low and our friends, families, and trusted sources are distancing themselves from one another, an open review platform aggregates the experiences of a global community to bring consumers together and give them the confidence needed to navigate new online buying scenarios.

It's the online "Word of Mouth" for me!

Read real reviews on Trustpilot: The confidence to purchase in uncertain times

We know that the majority of consumers prefer to use an open platform – by which we mean users don’t have to be invited by the brand to participate. And with social distancing eliminating many of our traditional trusted sources, the potential for review censorship on a closed review platform puts consumers at higher risk. Censored consumer reviews expose consumers to an incomplete picture of a business and can potentially prevent consumers from making fully-informed decisions about their purchases.

Not only are our trusted sources less available, but the need for them is more important than ever. According to the US Federal Trade Commission, as of March 31st, US consumers have already lost a total of $4.77 million for COVID-19-related scams (a reported median loss of $598 per person who is the victim of a scam), and these numbers do not include scams that have gone unreported. With the likelihood of a prolonged COVID-19 threat, those numbers are almost sure to increase.

Both consumers who have been subjected to scams (COVID-19-related or otherwise), as well as discerning consumers who have unearthed important information about a business through their experiences can alert the Trustpilot community to their findings.

Reading these real reviews on an open review platform is more critical than ever because the ability to independently authenticate a business through broad, collective experience has become one of the only options available in a world of social distancing.

Trustworthy business reviews

Be heard on Trustpilot: Reviewing your experiences is more important than ever

Amidst COVID-19, many companies are facing new challenges including disruptions in supply chains, workforce reductions, and modified delivery schedules, and while many have risen to the challenge, many have failed.

Although it is important that we grant businesses more leniency than we may traditionally be inclined (after all, there are human beings behind these businesses who are faced with the same daily challenges that we all face during this unprecedented time), it is still up to consumers to hold businesses accountable for their actions in the midst of a global event that is rapidly changing the goods and services we need, and how we utilize them.

Businesses use Trustpilot insights from consumers to improve their operations which means you have the opportunity to provide a range of constructive feedback. Letting a business know you were disappointed in their lack of communication around increased delivery timelines may prompt that business to improve their communications, and it will alert other consumers that the business is operating as slower than usual speeds.

This is also a great opportunity for you to let businesses, and customers reading their Trustpilot reviews, know that you approve of the way they have handled service changes or filled a significant need during COVID-19. While many consumers have already taken to Trustpilot to thank companies filling a critical void during this time, Trustpilot released a Thanks A Million initiative so you can share your approval and give businesses gratitude during these challenging times, and provide them the spotlight they deserve.

Voice your opinion

The world is changing, and Trustpilot is responding

At Trustpilot, we know we have a responsibility to let consumers read about real business experiences, especially when it’s hard to know who to believe, and harder to rely on your personal networks. We also know that we provide a critical platform for consumers to be heard by business during this evolving time.

This is why we’ve implemented the following measures to support customers and businesses at this time:

  • We are doing our small part to fight the spread of COVID-19 and keeping our teams healthy by temporarily closing all of our physical offices. We’ve ensured that all employees are equipped with the tools and systems they need to continue to provide world-class service to business and consumers while working remotely.
  • As mentioned above, we’ve implemented our Thanks A Million campaign. This helps consumers be heard. Businesses are aware that we have rolled out this function and are keeping eyes out to see if their customers approve of their response.

Trustpilot is committed to keeping our employees, businesses and consumers safe during this time and we will continue to ask ourselves how we can do more.


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