Building trust helps build business

Neil Bayton, Head of Partnerships in the UK at Trustpilot, talks about why the review platform plays a key role in building trust between a business and customer, as well as why the furnishings sector is such a popular category. 

In the first part of a two-leg series of articles, Big Furniture Group explored why Trustpilot is a vital tool for businesses, especially those in the furniture space. For those that don’t use the tool, Trustpilot is an open, independent and global review platform which exists to become a universal symbol of trust. It’s also free.

“Trustpilot launched in 2007 and 16 years later, we’re proud to say that consumer review websites rank second as most trusted by consumers in the UK to provide honest opinions about a good or service; with only ‘family and friends’ ranking higher,” reveals Neil. “In a world of declining trust, our platform protects and promotes trust online by connecting businesses with consumers to foster greater collaboration; helping consumers shop with confidence and businesses gain valuable feedback to improve their service and earn a trustworthy reputation online.

“Trustpilot is free for everyone to use. Businesses can also use the platform for free – which many do – or can enter a paid subscription to Trustpilot. Our Review Insights offering, for example, helps businesses understand their customer feedback better — enabling them to explore sentiment trends and rich insights to track how the service they provide performs from the start of the customer journey through to the finish. Location Reviews also help businesses manage reviews for stores and branches. We also offer additional tools, such as TrustBox widgets, that easily allow businesses to showcase their reviews and ratings – which are automatically updated in real time – on their own website.”

These are just some of the services Trustpilot offers and with the furnishings market in mind, a deeper dive into this segment revealed that it’s one of the highest performing categories on the platform. In fact, Home & Garden – which includes furniture and furnishings businesses – ranks fifth in terms of volume of page views and has more than 36,700 businesses having been rated on Trustpilot. What’s more, within the furniture sector specifically, there have been 6.3 million service reviews submitted to the platform globally – demonstrating the value consumers place in having their voice heard by businesses in the sector.

“Furniture businesses are incredibly important to Trustpilot and we work closely with many in the sector to help them gain valuable feedback from customers and manage their reputation online,” Neil said. “The global pandemic saw many consumers shift their shopping habits online as bricks and mortar was no longer an option, and this trend has remained since Covid restrictions were lifted – including across sectors which traditionally relied on in-store visits, such as furniture retailers.

“As the cost-of-living crisis lingers and consumers find their purse strings increasingly stretched, they want to ensure they’re getting the best products for their money, especially for high value purchases such as furniture. More than ever, consumers need to know which businesses will deliver on their promises, and reviews play a huge role in the decision-making process, particularly in the absence of face to face in-store contact.”

So, why should furniture related businesses be on Trustpilot?

Neil continued: “For businesses in general, reviews provide a multitude of benefits. By actively inviting and engaging with customer feedback on an open platform like Trustpilot – even when that feedback is not necessarily positive – brands can expand their reach, attract new customers and demonstrate to consumers that they are a customer-centric business. Consumer trust is a key differentiator online. Engaging proactively with feedback can also help smaller, independent furniture businesses to distinguish themselves from their competition – whilst some may not be able to beat larger businesses’ prices, they can compete by providing a better customer experience, and reviews help them to do that. What’s more, Trustpilot’s freemium plan ensures all businesses, no matter size, are on a level playing field and have a fair opportunity to invite and respond to reviews – whether on a subscription or free plan.

“Whilst inviting open, honest feedback can feel daunting, negative reviews can be just as valuable as positive reviews, and are better than having no feedback at all. In an age of scams and bogus businesses, public reviews tell customers you are a real business. Even more important is how companies respond to negative feedback, and a strong, timely response, demonstrating how well a business deals with a problem, is crucial. Negative reviews are also a powerful tool for business improvement – helping businesses take that feedback on and implement changes where required. Positive feedback gathered on an independent, open platform can also help businesses when it comes to advertising and driving sales, too. Showcasing the best client ratings and reviews in advertisements and promotional materials helps to build a trustworthy brand and reputation among consumers and increase the propensity to engage.”

Kevin Grix, CEO and Chief Ombudsman at the Furniture & Home improvement Ombudsman (FHIO) commented: “Online reviews are now an intrinsic part of the purchasing process for consumers within the furniture and home improvement industries and can provide invaluable insights into the quality of the products and services provided. By engaging with genuine reviews and using platforms like Trustpilot, consumers can gain more insights as to whether a product or a provider of services is going to be right for them.”

Supporting this notion, a survey conducted by London Research – commissioned by Trustpilot and published in ‘The impact of Trustpilot ratings and reviews in UK advertising’, found that UK consumers are four times more likely to click a Trustpilot co-branded advert showing a five-star customer rating, a high number of reviews, and a customer testimonial. Furthermore, consumers are three times more likely to click a Trustpilot co-branded advert showing a five-star customer rating, high number of reviews and a customer testimonial, versus an ad with no Trustpilot branding – even with a 20% higher price.

“Consumers themselves agree on the importance they place on reviews too, with almost four in five (79%) across the UK acknowledge that a good Trustpilot score makes them more likely to trust a business,” Neil revealed, continuing: “With 89% of UK consumers now checking online reviews prior to making purchasing decisions, the reality is a business is no longer what it says it is, but what the customer says it is – so businesses which choose not to engage with reviews risk being left behind.”

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