The Government’s Competition and Markets Authority Calls for Information on Use of Online Reviews and Endorsements

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The think tank is seeking views from both businesses and consumes to identify potential concerns about the trustworthiness and impartiality of information in online reviews and endorsements.

Online reviews – from dedicated review sites, to social media endorsements and blogs – are becoming a large part of the customer’s online experience of a brand or company.

They are important to those businesses whose products and services are reviewed on them, because they can be a guidance as to the weaknesses in their current customer service strategy and a prompt response can lead to a great experience for the consumer – and a positive review in itself.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) says it is keen to look at whether concerns about trustworthiness and impartiality of information in the reviews are valid, as it is important that these sites work as well as they can for both consumers and businesses.

The government body will be looking at a range of online reviews and endorsements found on web blogs, video blogs, social media, specialist review sites, trusted trader sites, retail platforms and retailers’ own websites.

The CMA will also look at the roles that media companies, online reputation managers and search engine optimisers play in helping businesses to promote themselves and manage their image in relation to blogs and review sites.

Nisha Arora, CMA Senior Director, Consumer, said that the information contained in online reviews and endorsements can be "a powerful force in the hands of consumers" as informed consumers make better decisions, driving competition on price and quality.

She added: "Businesses have always known that ‘word of mouth’ is one of the most important factors for potential customers; what online reviews and blogs do is to provide a greatly amplified version of this.

"However, for this sector to work well it is important that this information is genuine, relevant and trustworthy. One of our priorities as a new authority is to take a closer look at developments and practices in evolving online markets.

"We are calling on consumers, businesses, review sites, bloggers and others who play important roles in this sector to help us understand how well it is working before we consider whether further action is needed."

The deadline for responses to the call for information is 25 March 2015 and you can submit your information via the CMA website.

What is your experience of online reviews and endorsement? Do you take notice of them to improve your customer’s experience, or is it not yet a part of your marketing strategy? And if it isn’t, why not?