Who believes testimonials anyway?

by Kesh Morjaria on February 13, 2011

Over centuries, businesses have used testimonials provided by their customers to win the trust of future customers.

Nowadays there are lots of company websites with testimonials about them listed somewhere on their own sites.  Would any company really ever publish bad testimonials on their own website though?  A list of only positive testimonials does raise questions about their credibility.

Here are some other reasons why almost all people (at least buyers) today are sceptical of testimonials or so-called reviews …

  • Comments without a name – could have been fabricated?  I certainly haven’t met anyone named Anonymous!
  • Comments with only a first name or initials supplied – if one is unwilling to be openly associated with this company, how are we supposed to trust this comment or business?
  • Comments that have a first name and surname but no title or status, no contact details or a personal photo to show that a real person has made the comment. It is always easier to trust a real person.
  • Comments from an unqualified person – we see how learned people get things horribly wrong so how are we supposed to trust the judgment of just anyone?
  • Frequency of the testimonials – one testimonial dated 1997 and another in year 2011 hardly instills trust. In fact the infrequency makes them even less believable.

Naturally business testimonials that appear on an independent site such as Trip Advisor can be a little more trustworthy. Although how independent a reviews site owned by Expedia will ever be is another question to ask ourselves? Unfortunately, Trip Advisor is fast becoming a cheap complaints forum rather than a useful, relevant and genuine reviews site.  I still use Trip Advisor but I apply diligence by checking the credentials of the reviewer (e.g.  Their status, Photos, genuine name, how many reviews they given, places they have visited, number of balanced and helpful comments they have made etc)

Businesses that are good and growing fast, not only pro-actively monitor what people say about them on social media (totally objectively) but also make a point of responding to all mentions of them – VERY OPENLY!

It’s not surprising why these are the businesses that are naturally winning the battle for our trust.

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