Wednesday 6 April 2016

Resolution™ in action - and some case histories

 Customers - including those who post negative reviews to Google - are not always right

In January 2015 we received a call from a firm of London estate agents. They were concerned that they had received a flurry of negative Google reviews (having had no reviews at all three months previously). Could we help? We visited the business and carried out our usual audit: we interviewed the directors and came to the conclusion that they were a well-managed and professional business (contrary to the impression given by the reviews), so we set to work. 

Dialogue was embedded into their website – including an invitation to their clients to copy their reviews to Google. At the same time we advised them to respond to their existing Google reviews and to appeal those that we felt were contravening Google T&Cs.  

This resulted them embarking on a quest to rebalance their reputation on Google from a very low base of nine negative reviews and a Google score of 1.2. To date they have received over 200 reviews to their HelpHound module, of which over fifty have been copied to Google. Their Google score now stands at 4.1.

This does not mean that the agents in question no longer have any dissatisfied clients (show us the business that can make that claim). They have had nearly thirty 3, 2 or 1 star reviews of one kind or another posted through Dialogue, six of which are now displayed on their module and one of which has been copied to Google. 

So what happened to the negative reviews that did not make it to their module? In every instance their reviewer was able to engage with the business and the business was able to reply to the reviewer, before the reviewer was invited – by HelpHound – to post a final review. We have analysed each and every review; the results of this analysis are illuminating:

All the negative reviews were posted by tenants and they broke down as follows:

·       62% referred to deposits that had not been returned in full

·       the remainder referred to maintenance issues

Here are examples of reviews in each category:

1.  Non-return of deposit

The reviewer: complained that, having spent the entire weekend cleaning the property, with his girlfriend, the agents had instructed professional cleaners and deducted the cost from the tenant’s deposit.

The business: responded by pointing out that the tenant’s contract stipulated professional cleaning and that this had been reinforced to the tenant by email two weeks before they were dues to vacate.

Result: both parties satisfied, no review posted – to HelpHound or to Google

2.  The reviewer: complained that their washing machine had broken down and that the agent had been slow to arrange maintenance (the review mentioned ‘several weeks’). They also complained that they had been asked to bear part of the cost of the replacement.

The business: the agent’s log and contractor’s invoices showed that the fault had been reported on a Friday and the engineer had attended on the following Monday to find that the tenant had accidentally washed an item of clothing containing a steel chain which had damaged the machine beyond repair.

Result: both parties satisfied, no review posted – to HelpHound or to Google

The key is: both the business's Dialogue module and Google now present a full and fair picture of this business to its prospective clients. Reviews stating errors of fact or unsubstantiated assertions help no-one.  The business’s clients are universally happy with the service provided by the business and by HelpHound. Everyone – the business, their customers (existing and prospective) and Google - wins.

A note on Google reviews:

The business has a right-of-reply (and we always recommend that our clients do so). Unfortunately Google have no way of arbitrating between reviewer and reviewed business, so the score attached to a negative review - inevitably one or two stars - stands, irrespective of the business's response.

An extreme example of this was a Google review of a London pub which asserted that the pub 'charged £6 for a pint of beer' and gave the pub one star. The pub responded to the review with the correct price, but the score stood - negatively impacting the pub's overall score.

Again: the point we are making is that Dialogue is fair to all concerned. It cannot make a business look better than it is. The reviewer is always invited to post a review - to Dialogue and to Google, whatever the outcome of Resolution. What Dialogue does do is prevent false or misleading reviews from making it into the public domain.

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