One of the most powerful forces in today’s market is trust. Will other businesses or customers decide to collaborate with you or not will depend on the fact whether they trust you. And this is nothing new - the concept of trust economy is as old as the business itself. But, like everything else, the world’s economy has also been affected by digital transformation. Thus, trust remains an underlying foundation, but how it can be achieved has changed.
Keep reading to find out how the trust economy operates in a digital world and how your business can benefit from it.
What is a trust economy?
As we mentioned, the trust economy is a very old concept that has been forever present. Ever since the economy was based on exchanging goods, customers have avoided working with unreliable sellers. So, we can say that the basic concept is still present - customers decide to cooperate with businesses and organizations that are reliable.
In the past, word-of-mouth was the main creator of trustworthiness. That’s still the case today, even though, word-of-mouth is now more present in the form of online reviews. Business reputation is nowadays built through online reviews, and it can be jeopardized more easily than ever. With just one click, customers from all over the world can easily access all the information regarding your business. Therefore, transparency has never been more important when it comes to the trust economy.
But, the system of economy of trust is often endangered by fake reviews.
Fake reviews and why are they bad for your business?
When there are so many competitors, standing out from the crowd can become tricky. In the age of online reviews, every comment counts. Thus, many businesses go for fake reviews. Fake reviews are usually positive reviews about your own business posted by some fake account (or a real account that has been paid to leave positive feedback). Sometimes, companies even post fake negative reviews about their competition to get a better market share.
Although faking positive reviews can seem like an easy way to get more visibility, they’re very bad for your business. Trust is hard to build, and even harder to gain again if broken. Sooner or later, customers will see that it’s impossible to have all positive reviews and that there must be something shady.
In the early days, review platforms wanted to facilitate the process so it was easy for anybody to write a review. That led to many anonymous and fake reviews. As a consequence, the system got compromised, and some companies saw that as an opportunity to go even further.
You know how they say that in love and war, everything is allowed? Well, the case of Cure Encapsulations tells a different story.
Cure Encapsulations case - what can you learn from it
Cure Encapsulations is a company that sells weight-loss supplements on Amazon. In 2019, they’ve been accused of paying a third-party website to leave fake customer reviews. The case came up to the Federal Trade Commission and as a part of the settlement, the company had to pay $12.8 million. Of course, the money was the least of their worries - the trust that customers had was destroyed, and they were banned from promoting any supplement or food if they didn’t have evidence from the clinical studies.
Unfortunately, this is not an isolated case. Some companies go so far as to leave fake negative reviews on their competitors, just to obtain a better market position.
Besides manipulating the customers, fake reviews also affect the businesses that play by the rules. If we know that 92% of customers consult online reviews before making a purchase decision, it’s clear as day why is it so important to offer transparency.
When everyone is playing by the rules, a trust economy can benefit all the parties included. Genuine negative reviews can help businesses to understand what their customers see as a problem and act accordingly. On the other hand, real, positive reviews can serve as praise and a sign that customers are satisfied with your product and service. Great reviews and five-star ratings are a signal for future potential customers, but if the whole system is under suspicion, even the five-star ratings don’t mean much.
The end of anonymous Google reviews
Another often thing besides fake reviews is anonymous reviews. As we said, in the early days, to facilitate things, everyone could leave a review. But, that came with a price - the trust in the trust economy system was jeopardized. Customers take many anonymous reviews as a signal that something might be wrong. That’s completely understandable - it’s expected that people believe more when they see a real name behind a comment.
Anonymous reviews were also a problem for businesses as well. It’s hard to respond and act accordingly when you don’t know who the reviewer is.
So, many review websites decided to act upon and forbid anonymous reviews back in 2018. Besides this change, Google also ended the practice of “review gating”. Review gating is a process in which companies guide satisfied customers to leave public reviews while directing the dissatisfied ones to their customer service to find a way to improve their overall experience. With this new policy, businesses need to include all customers in the review writing process, and not encourage only the ones they know will leave a positive review.
Regardless of how you’re getting them, dealing with online reviews is far from easy. It’s impossible to keep track of everything manually since there are so many reviews on different review platforms and social media channels. That’s why it would be wise to use the help of some of the online review tools. They can help you with capturing customer reviews on various platforms as well as responding to them which saves much time and resources.
justlikeAPI and trust economy
At justLikeAPI, we strongly encourage a trust economy. We recognized the need of creating a trustworthy online environment where everyone can thrive - from companies to customers. That’s why we’re so dedicated to helping businesses monitor their reviews and improve online reputation management.
Are you struggling with online reviews? If so, get in touch with us, and we’ll see how we can help you.