Transparency works in every direction. We were interested to see that the CEO of Purplebricks referenced its TrustPilot reviews more than once when defending his business on Watchdog last night. We make no comment on TrustPilot's solution to reviews here - our views on independent review sites are well known - but we will take this opportunity to reinforce how a HelpHound client might respond if they were found in a situation where they had to defend their reviews mechanism.
To be completely credible, a reviews solution must fulfill the following criteria:
1. The reviewer must be able to write a review whenever they choose
If you don't have a button like this on your website your reviews system is probably non-compliant
Before they become a customer, during the time they remain a customer, after they have ceased to be a customer.
2. The reviewer must retain the right to have their review published at any time - even if it is factually incorrect.
If you don't offer consumers the opportunity to write a review - and have it published - whenever they want, they will find somewhere that does
The business will always have the right-of-reply, but it cannot be seen to be filtering or editing reviews.
3. The review system must be compliant with the Competition and Markets Authority's regulations
These regulations have the force of law - and we see so many independent solutions that are non-compliant. The onus on compliance is on the business - it is no defence to say 'But I was told [by the review company]...'
4. Anyone must be able to write a review
At the risk of repeating ourselves...
Some solutions pride themselves on 'customer verification' - requiring the reviewer to prove that they have had dealings with the business. This, at first sight, looks like a great idea - but it does not work in practice; anyone who has had any experience of your business, officially a 'customer' or not, is a stakeholder in your business's reputation. If they cannot write their review via your reviews solution they can via Google - so if you want to drive them to air their negative opinions on the most read reviews site in the world use a 'verified customer' solution.
- Reviews and the law - the CAM regulations analysed
- Do-it-yourself - the potential pitfalls
- Five questions most asked - No. 2 is about independent review sites