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Online reputation: Trust-building for dummies

How do you create online trust?

Online reputation: trust-building for dummies

Some time ago we were working on a possible collaboration between two of our customers. The idea was simple: a few products in exchange for exposure. But there was one problem: our client checked the online reputation of our other client. This turned out to be a negative one. The deal was over.

The feedback I got was that they did not want to be associated with a customer who has a low ‘Trust Score‘. The funny thing was only that this particular customer with the low score, was a brand with a solid reputation and history. In our eyes it was certainly a “premium brand” but for the layman (and let’s face it, consumers are very fickle) a simple Google search was apparently not enough to get into bed with them…

Word-of-mouth advertising has always been the best advertising there is. It’s a wonderful way to gain new customers, especially for local businesses that may be less visible because of their smaller marketing budgets. People trust recommendations from friends, over advertisements from companies who highly praise their own products.

Today we see interesting developments in the area of trust. We live in an increasingly digital society in which we are surrounded by all kinds of media expressions. In addition, most of us have built up an extensive social life on social media. We are all day surrounded by family, friends and new kinds of acquaintances: the people we get to know online, or just passers-by in the digital traffic.

Trust / Confidence in the digital world

Because of this digitization, the traditional word-of-mouth has also undergo a metamorphosis. It has taken the form of online reviews. That these online product reviews are becoming increasingly important is explained by a combination of factors.
On the one hand, consumers in today’s hectic society are experiencing a deluge of information. All around us we are bombarded with advertisements and product information. We can choose products and services from around the world, but how can we ever digest all this information to make an effective choice? Confidence is the most important catchword. The company that knows how to create the most confidence has a major advantage in the selection process that the client goes through.

Our innate distrust for advertisements also ensures that we increasingly rely on online reviews. Through an assigned score, for example in the form of a star, it easy to scan how well the product satisfied another person. We can have a quick read through of the pros and cons of the products with a high score, and then make our own choice.

Online reviews vs. personal recommendation

research at Bright Local from 2014 showed that 88% of people trust online reviews as well as a personal recommendation. And it is expected that this number will only continue to rise. It might seem crazy that we put so much trust in anonymous assessors, but if you think about it, it’s actually not much different than when we get in line at the bakery to talk with a stranger to whom you would recommend to really give the corn bread a try. If you still had doubts about what bread you would take, the chances are that you’re going for the corn bread. So online we let recommendations and reviews affect us in the same way, only we don’t see the face of the assessor.

Trust-building application

Trust plays a crucial role in purchasing decisions and you can make good use of this to generate more sales and get existing customers to return. When you want to apply trust-building, it’s important to keep some things in mind:

  • The survey referred to above, showed that 85% of people read up to 10 reviews per product. It is therefore important to have sufficient reviews on your product page. Therefore make it as simple as possible for customers to post a review after their purchase and share them via social media.
  • Transparency creates trust. Everyone knows that ratings also have an element of subjectivity to them. Here and there a review that contains some downsides is no problem, it just makes you more credible. It is much more important to deal with any criticism in a positive way. See it as an opportunity to, for example, provide additional services through social media for solving the problem. That way, other potential customers can instantly see how you tackle problems, and that generates additional confidence.
  • Customer focus is essential. Make sure you give your customers the feeling that they are handled personally, and present yourself and your company in as human a way as possible.

With the right attitude, you don’t have to be afraid to be put on the sideline because consumers have less and less confidence in traditional advertising. Remember that you should build this new confidence, and spend enough time on reputation management in order to achieve a good strategy for ensuring that all the reviews and search results will be in your favour.


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