Jason Clemmit, Managing Director at Certass, talks through the prevalence of fake consumer reviews, and what steps the industry could take to protect itself.
In an increasingly interconnected world,consumer decisions are heavily influenced by online reviews. According to Feefo’s 2019 Consumer Trends Report, a staggering 96% of UK consumers utilise customer reviews in some capacity, with 64% reading them prior to making a purchase.
This reliance on reviews underscores their pivotal role in shaping consumer perceptions and choices. For installers and home improvement professionals, consumer reviews have emerged as a double-edged sword, capable of either elevating their reputation or tarnishing it irreparably.
With consumer reliance on reviews at an all-time high, installers in the home improvement sector understand the need to seek feedback from those that have experienced their work firsthand. While there are many ‘Find a Trader’ services designed to do this, as well as provide traders with business sales leads, these schemes can often cost into hundreds of pounds per month. They also don’t validate consumer ratings or check the trader for work standards.
Keeping consumer’s confidence
Feefo’s report also highlights one major concern: 72% of consumers express apprehension about encountering fake reviews on such sites. This wariness underscores the growing need for a robust system that filters out counterfeit feedback and bolsters consumer trust in the home improvement sector’s reputation.
Undeniably, five-star reviews exert a magnetic pull on potential buyers. Feefo’s findings indicate that consumers are a staggering 270% more likely to opt for products or services adorned with five-star ratings compared to those without any reviews.
This can lead to a temptation for businesses to orchestrate fake comments and reviews themselves, in an attempt to better their reputation.
To counteract the influx of fake reviews, a multifaceted approach is essential. A report from the Government earlier this year on the issue of fake online reviews suggests that more than 10% of online reviews could be inauthentic, demanding the implementation of preventative measures.
A certified approach
A huge part of our job as a certification provider is knowing the additional support and services our members need from us, to ensure that certification membership provides value to their business.
Our homeowner-facing and free-to-search site, Certified Competent, was launched with installers in mind and an aim to professionalise consumer ratings.
Certass membership includes your own Certified Competent profile at no extra cost. The profile displays company details, certifications and an average rating score out of 10. Critically, there is a review validation process in place to ensure all reviews are genuine.
Each review submitted requires a valid job reference number, functioning as a litmus test for authenticity, defeating the possibility of baseless negative reviews and review-bombing campaigns.
Our members are scored by their customers on a range of attributes, including their service, tidiness, reliability & timekeeping, workmanship standards and product suitability. Consumers can leave any additional comments too, which are great for members to use on their own website, social media profiles and marketing resources.
Taking this pressure off installers can have a massive impact. Professionals, aware of the impact a bogus review can have on their reputation, can now channel all their energy towards completing a job to the best of their abilities.
They are emboldened to deliver their services adhering to best practices, secure in the knowledge that their hard-earned reputation is strengthened by genuine reviews.
In parallel, consumers gain peace of mind knowing that they are engaging with a Certified Competent professional who has earned the trust of their peers through authentic reviews.
A fake-free future
The power of genuine reviews in the home improvement market cannot be overstated. The sheer number of fake reviews, while a challenge, serves as a rallying point for any competent person scheme provider to assess the infrastructure of how they process feedback.
Certass’s Certified Competent platform provides a compelling blueprint for other review sites, emphasising the importance of authenticity, and leading to a more transparent, trustworthy, and thriving home improvement sector.
As reviews continue to shape the consumer landscape, a commitment to honesty and fairness is the cornerstone upon which the industry’s future stands.