Rideshares, Ratings, and Customer Verified
Today TrustRadius launched a program — Customer Verified — that I believe brings a much-needed balance of trust to the customer reviews industry. But, although I’ve been deep in the planning of the launch, I’m not sure I really understood how much it was needed until I had a conversation with a Lyft driver in Toronto last week.
We talked as he shuttled me between a conference and customer meetings. “I drive for Uber and Lyft full-time now,” he said. “So when you rate this ride, if there is any reason you wouldn’t give it 5 stars, let me know. If my rating drops below 4.6 stars, they kick me off the system.”
He was philosophical as we talked about the “why” behind Uber’s 4.6 star rule and the gaming that it led to in a world where both riders and drivers need to maintain reputation. “I understand why they want highly-rated drivers, but if everyone gives everyone 5 stars, and some of them are from years ago, the ratings don’t mean much,” he said. Everything we discussed reinforces why I believe the Customer Verified feature we launched today solves a bigger problem for our industry, B2B technology reviews.
In short, as buyers lose trust in marketing and the traditional analyst model declines in influence, customer reviews are gaining great power. But the market is coming to see that not all reviews are equally trustworthy. At TrustRadius we don’t sell leads or ads, bias placements, or allow vendors to remove or alter reviews. That’s because we believe, in the words of Spider-Man, that with great power comes great responsibility. Customer Verified is a further step towards making that responsibility visible and meaningful to both buyers and vendors.
And let’s be honest — in the new trust economy, buyers see through fake content and gamed systems. So it just makes sense to ensure that they have a constant stream of trustworthy content to fuel their decision-making. In short, we want to be, in the words of one of our customers, “the #1 trusted source for reviews.” Customer Verified helps us do that.
Customer Verified — The Why and The What
Backing up for a minute — what is Customer Verified? Simply enough, it’s a big step forward in our journey to be the most trusted source of B2B technology reviews. Currently our trScore controls for bias, so you can be sure that the ratings aren’t manipulated. Our TrustMaps are designed to recognize marketing momentum and trScore, rather than rewarding manipulated scores and raw review counts. We already have the most stringent review-fraud prevention in the industry.
Our Top Rated award program is also designed to build trust by recognizing top vendors in key categories based on Recency, Relevancy, and Rating. (And if you’re not aware of it, you should be strategizing for Top Rated now to ensure you’re putting your best foot forward.)
But as important as these steps are in setting the industry standard for customer trust, B2B technology buyers need additional ways to ensure that they’re making the right buying choices and not being influenced by the gaming that some review sites encourage. And with the increasing power of customer reviews, responsible B2B marketers need to show that they’re acting in good faith in driving reviews. Customer Verified serves both those audiences and takes a step into the new B2B world, where marketing is based on trust and transparency.
Simply enough, Customer Verified is a new badge that will show up on qualifying products’ profiles, as well as in search results and comparison pages. When the Customer Verified badge shows up:
- Buyers gain confidence based on transparency. To earn Customer Verified, a product must have at least ten reviews written or updated within the past twelve months – a standard that buyers tell is us meaningful (especially given that TrustRadius reviews average 408 words per review, far more detailed than the industry standard). That’s a rolling twelve months, so unlike Top Rated, Customer Verified status can be gained or lost at any time during the year. When a product is customer verified, a buyer knows that there is enough in-depth, recent feedback to help the buyer make a confident purchase decision.
- Vendors are rewarded for that transparency. My Lyft driver talked about how in a market where everyone has five stars because of an artificial threshold, ratings mean little. By rewarding vendors for a continuous flow of in-depth feedback, Customer Verified moves the industry towards an honest, transparent approach to reviews. The only way to gain Customer Verified status is to make a commitment to honest and ongoing customer feedback.
- Vendors gain control. In a competitive market, it’s possible to be a well-regarded vendor and not qualify for a Top Rated award. But, if we want Top Rated to be hard to earn, we want Customer Verified to reward vendors who are committed to doing things right and following best practices. By driving reviews at multiple times during the year, integrating asks for reviews into touchpoints, and following other best practices, a vendor has a clear and predictable path to get credit for being transparent by being certified as Customer Verified.
- Both buyers and vendors will benefit from increased trust based on real-time information. There’s a place for awards like Top Rated, that recognize a market position gained over the course of a year. But as my driver observed, “I may have a high or a low rating, but really I’m only as good as my last few rides – that’s how I should be judged.” When you notice the Customer Verified badge, you can be sure you’re dealing with a vendor who’s made a commitment to being judged based on their last few rides.
Customer Verified — What’s Next
Are you Customer Verified? Visit your profile on TrustRadius and take a look.
If you see the icon shown above, celebrate! You are well positioned, because you have fresh content. Buyers can now see that, and you’ll stand out because of it. But you’ll want to ensure that you’re committed to continuing to drive new reviews in order to stay Customer Verified — and, of course, to give your buyers the recent feedback from your customers that they find most helpful.
Don’t see the icon? Don’t despair. Instead, reach out to us here. By getting some best practices going, we help you attain the fresh content needed to become Customer Verified.
We’re very excited to bring the next step of transparency to the market via Customer Verified, and we look forward to continuing on our path as the most trusted resource for B2B buyers, as well as the most effective way for B2B marketers to embrace the new review-driven world.