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Are Reviews Important for Conveying Trust?

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Interview: Are ratings and reviews the best way to earn, maintain, and convey customer trust?

In their latest boardroom discussion, Tom and Rory discuss the value and risks of review tools like Trust Pilot, Feefo, Google and Amazon, and the pros and cons of using a review platform for a company like DSL.

Tom: “From a personal point of view, I see merit in reviews and ratings. They are tools which give me an insight into a company’s reputation, and the general performance of their products and services. Am I right in saying you’re less enthused?”

Rory: “I would say I’m more sceptical about their value. For personal products, for example a pair of trainers, I can see the value in looking at the star ratings; I’d rather order something that others have rated highly. If I receive a product and it’s got some fundamental issue, and I hadn’t looked at the ratings, and then I look at the top review that says ‘do not buy this product’, I now have a pair of trainers that aren’t fit for purpose because I didn’t do my homework. Of course, you can return things, but that’s irritating and time consuming. So, I can see usefulness of reviews in this context.

“I also see the value in review sites for the trades, like carpenters and plumbers, who may provide services to up to 10 people a day in your town or city – any reviews in this context would be local, relevant, and someone you could pick up the phone to if needed. I’m currently having some work done at home and I did look at online reviews and testimonials but I’d much rather get an in-person recommendation, especially from trusted friends. And it’s the same at work; we like to get recommendations from people we know and trust within the electronics industry.”

review and ratingsTom: “That’s true. But having reviews on an independent website is almost like a stamp of approval, isn’t it? If a potential customer is Googling (other search engines are available!) to find a supplier and some have reviews and some don’t, would they take that into account when making a decision?”

Rory: “For a professional services company like ours, I don’t think online reviews help potential customers. We tend to have a smaller number of customers over a longer period of time, rather than 1000’s of one-off purchases like the trainer example I mentioned.

“A DSL product or service could receive five out of five stars, but there may be only five reviewers because the end-results are so bespoke. Does the actual number of rating and reviews affect people’s judgement? It certainly does on Amazon – if two companies are selling the same product and one has 100 reviews and the other has five, I know which I would choose. So, in DSL’s case, it may not be an accurate reflection of the quality of our work. But I guess every company started from zero reviews, right?!”

Tom: “Absolutely. We do have testimonials on our website that customers have kindly sent us and we hear the positive feedback directly from them on a daily basis behind the scenes, so we know that we are delivering what we promise and that it is valued.”

Rory: “Exactly, and I’m sure our customers would be happy to speak to potential customers about what it is like to work with us. I’m not saying there’s no risk in working with an electronic design company or supplier of industrial panel PCs, and that you shouldn’t do your homework, but I’m not convinced that public reviews and ratings are the right way to make a decision on what is probably a very important bit of kit. Our customers are often engineering and design specialists themselves, and our expertise and experience would be apparent from the first contact with us.

Tom: “I agree with you on the product side, but from a service point-of-view, our customer support standards are renowned as excellent, particularly in the context of the current component crisis and other global issues which may impact product delivery. Could that be helpfully rated and reviewed?”

Rory: “From a service point of view, in the short term, you could evaluate our sales, dispatch and engineers for sure, and I have absolute confidence in the DSL teams’ ability to excel in that. But I’d hope that any issues were flagged so we could address them immediately to show our commitment to exceptional customer support, rather than reading about it on an online review site.

“We have two halves of the DSL business. One: we’re designing electronics for companies, which can take months from that first conversation to production and then implementation. Two: in the off-the-shelf side of the business, we’re supplying a panel PCs to customers for deployment. How can someone give either of those products or services a review without waiting 10 years to prove their reliability? That’s the quality review we would want. Isn’t it less valuable for us and potential customers to read a review from current client after only a week of working with us?

“Our value as a business, is long-term reliability. What DSL is all about is 24/7 reliable products and support that last for decades. If you believe in what you’re doing, deliver what you promise, and communicate impeccably, your customers, suppliers and staff will be your advocates which is much more powerful and enduring than any number of stars.”