Putting the trust back into online reviews

Few minutes to read
By Clare Naden
Tagged as ConsumersBusiness
Published on

Consumer reviews play an increasingly strong role in purchasing decisions, but with a plethora of platforms and opinions, whose view can you trust? A new standard just published aims to put some order into the process to restore back our faith.

Both a bane and a boon for companies, online reviews are often the first port of call for consumers and the Internet is now awash with Websites dedicated to the evaluation of everything from restaurants to lawyers. And we love them. A Forbes study showed that 90 % of consumers read online reviews before visiting a business and those reviews impact 67 % of purchasing decisions1).

Yet, for as many reliable reviews, there are just as many that are less so, with controversies around fake reviews, customers with an axe to grind, companies modifying or screening notes to weed out bad testimonies, false negative reviews written by competitors and other “dodgy dealings” that erode trust in the whole process.

A new ISO standard just published aims to change all that by detailing requirements for organizations to effectively manage consumer review sites and featuring recommendations that will help increase consumer trust and protect suppliers from exploitation.

Aimed at review Websites as well as the companies themselves, ISO 20488, Online consumer reviews – Principles and requirements for their collection, moderation and publication, is the first International Standard published by ISO’s technical committee for online reputation, ISO/TC 2902).

Reflecting international best practice throughout the process, from collection to moderation and to publication, it helps companies boost consumer confidence in online reviews, protect suppliers from mischief and improve the quality of products and services provided.

Committee Chair Laurent Petit said that online reviews empower consumers by allowing them to exchange information, views and experiences, which in turn can drive industry improvements.

“The ability to write and read online reviews is very empowering for the consumer, and there are millions posted each year,” he commented.

“However, it is vital to both consumers and suppliers that review sites are well managed and the content is reliable, otherwise trust is eroded and reputations are damaged unnecessarily.

“ISO 20488 aims to improve the management of these sites – and thus their credibility – based on guiding principles of integrity, transparency and accuracy.”

ISO 20488 is available from your national ISO member or through the ISO Store.

1) Forbes: 20 Online Reputation Statistics That Every Business Owner Needs To Know

2) The secretariat for ISO/TC 290, Online reputation, is held by AFNOR, ISO’s member for France.

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