Trustpilot is a digital platform that allows customers to review a business from which they’ve purchased a product or service or contacted customer service. Customers provide a star rating—from 1 to 5—and leave comments about their experience with the company. 

The company’s reviews are a way for consumers to gauge the reputation of a given company, and for businesses to gain an understanding of how customers view the organization.  

Key Takeaways

  • Trustpilot is an online review platform where consumers with a purchase or service experience with a given company can write a review. 
  • Companies with a Trustpilot profile receive a numerical TrustScore between 1 and 5, based on how past customers have rated the business. Customers can also write a review detailing their overall experience with the company.
  • The Danish company went public in 2021, raising the most capital of any IPO on the London Stock Exchange in nearly a decade. 

About Trustpilot

Trustpilot is a Denmark-based company launched by entrepreneur Peter Holten Mühlmann in 2007. Its goal is to provide a rating system for retailers and service providers that can help would-be customers make better shopping decisions and enable businesses to improve their customer experience. It has become one of the largest online review services in the world, with more than 120 million reviews of more than 529,000 businesses, as of September 2021.

Based in Copenhagen, Trustpilot has more than 700 employees and operates offices in London, Edinburgh, New York, Denver, Melbourne, Berlin, and Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania. The company was listed on the London Stock Exchange (LSE) in March 2021, with the initial public offering (IPO) raising £473 million (roughly $640 million) making it the largest IPO for the exchange in nearly a decade, according to Reuters.

How Does Trustpilot Work? 

Any consumer with a Trustpilot profile can leave a star rating for businesses from which they’ve made a purchase or had a service experience. The platform uses those individual ratings to calculate a cumulative “TrustScore,” from 1 to 5. A “5” equates to “excellent” while a “1” indicates a “bad” experience.

However, the TrustScore isn’t simply an average of all existing reviews for the business. The company’s algorithm is affected by: 

  • Time span—More recent reviews are weighted more strongly than older ones. 
  • Frequency—The more frequently that companies collect their reviews, the more consistent their TrustScore will be. 
  • Bayesian average—Companies with few reviews are more likely to see large fluctuations in their score. To counteract this, Trustpilot includes seven reviews with a 3.5-star rating as a way to stabilize the overall score. When the business acquires more reviews, these initial 3.5-star ratings begin to have a smaller effect on the TrustScore.

In addition to the star rating, customers can enter comments about their experience with the company, from the quality of its products to their experience with order fulfillment or customer service. 

Creating a Profile and Writing Reviews 

You can create a free profile by using your Facebook or Google login or an email address. In addition, customers may receive a Trustpilot invitation from a business they have recently used. By clicking on this link, a profile is automatically created with the personal information you have already provided to that business.

However, consumers don’t need an invitation to leave a review for a company with which they’ve had an interaction. Once logged into your Trustpilot profile, you can look for the business’s profile using the search function and then leave feedback.

In keeping with Trustpilot’s aim of providing reviews from actual customers, businesses are allowed to flag any reviews that they consider suspicious. These flagged reviews are then investigated by Trustpilot to make sure the author has complied with its guidelines.

How Trustpilot Makes Money 

Trustpilot offers a freemium business model. There’s no cost for consumers to leave reviews or for businesses to receive basic features. However, businesses that wish to receive more advanced services pay a monthly fee. 

Companies, for example, can receive up to 100 automated review invitations per month and access to basic review statistics at no cost. According to Trustpilot, 90% of the businesses that obtain reviews do so as non-subscribers.

Paying business customers, on the other hand, can send out a larger number of review invitations per month and have access to AI-generated analytics that the company says can provide deeper insights into the customer experience. They also receive marketing tools that help them tout their reviews, including widgets that showcase their TrustScore and an image-generator tool for social media profiles.

The company’s “standard plan” starts at $200 a month, although additional modules—like unlimited review invitations and location-based review analytics—add to the price tag.

2.2 million

The number of fake or harmful company reviews Trustpilot removed from its platform, according to its first transparency report, released in 2021.

Criticisms of Trustpilot

Despite its immense popularity, Trustpilot has been dogged by complaints that its client firms sometimes receive fake positive reviews or intentionally flag negative ratings that could harm their TrustScore. 

Those doubts have forced the company to become more open about client practices in recent years. In 2019, for instance, Trustpilot unveiled a new “transparent flagging” feature that allows consumers to find out how many reviews a given company has flagged. It has also implemented automated fraud detection software to help identify infractions against its flagging policies.

In 2021, the company released its first-ever transparency report, which revealed that the company removed 2.2 million fake or harmful reviews—or 5.7% of the total reviews made on its platform. Most of those were identified and removed through its fraud detection software. 

"It's very difficult for humans to spot a fake review [unless they are] badly done," its chief trust officer, Carolyn Jameson, told the BBC in 2021. "But the machines look at multiple data points, like the number of times an IP address has posted a review in quick succession, and patterns in language that might look natural to the human eye but have been repeated too many times in other reviews by the same person.”

Who Can Write a Review on Trustpilot?

Anyone with a buying or service experience with a company can leave a review. In order to do so, you have to first create a Trustpilot profile, which is free. Some companies invite their recent customers to provide a review, in which case a profile is automatically created for new users with personal information they already provided to that company. 

How Does Trustpilot Make Money?

The company runs on a freemium model, in which companies have to pay a subscription fee in order to unlock certain features. Subscribing companies, for example, can send more automated review invitations and receive AI-generated insights related to the feedback customers are leaving. 

Are Trustpilot Reviews Reliable?

Critics argue that companies will sometimes try to “game” the platform in order to achieve higher TrustScores. One technique is for companies to flag negative reviews that might hurt their score, even when those reviews are valid.
To counter that practice, Trustpilot has recently added a new “transparent flagging” feature that enables individuals to find out how many reviews a company has flagged. The review platform also started to publish a transparency report that details its efforts to minimize improper flagging.