In this article we hope to help the uninitiated reach the right conclusion as to the correct solution for their business - for now and for the foreseeable future.
If someone is recommending a reviews solution that seems to good to be true and is not backed up with solid real-world test cases then you need to be asking 'is this, just maybe, snake oil?'!
If you recognise anything that follows we strongly suggest you speak to us; we will advise you - professionally - how to extract your business and set it on the road to successful - and legally compliant - review management.
Successful review management will enable your business to shine in search and impress on your own website. Those two features will drive more enquiries and more business your way.
Many businesses we meet have yet to understand that the onus is on them - the business - not the reviews solution or the reviews site, to comply with the law. If you are not completely familiar with the Competition and Markets Authority's rules - read this article and then call us.
Doing it (wrong) yourself:
The first temptation - especially if your business has recently been subject to a negative review - is to do one of the following:
- hand-pick customers you think will be virtually certain to write a five star review
- hand-pick customers who have already written you a five star review of your business somewhere else and ask them to copy it to the website that currently concerns you
This business, by their own admission, went from a handful of reviews on Google and a score of less than 2 out of 5, to this in a matter of days. How? By choosing every client that had written a five star review on a specialist independent site over the previous three years and asking them to copy it across to Google. Ingenious, but of doubtful legality.
Stop! The government regulations clearly state that what ever reviews solution you choose you must invite all your customers to write a review and they must be able to do it at a time of their own choosing.
That's good news, because it gives your reviews credibility, and anyway: what business wants to have to confess to a savvy customer that their reviews are only written by their happy customers?
Employing a 'reputation manager':
If you see the word 'reputation' in any review solution's marketing you should question whether you are addressing the symptoms rather than the cause. better to get your own customer relationship management house in order than pay an outside agency to paper over the cracks.
There are many businesses out these that promise to 'repair your business's reputation' and they are not all selling snake oil, but many of them will take tens of £thousands and spend it on relatively ineffective or short-lived SEO when what they should really be recommending is the business clean up its own customer-facing act and then engage a professional review manager.
Employing an independent reviews site
Here is a screenshot of a review - by an employee - of an independent reviews site written on the employer/employee reviews site Glassdoor in the last week:
Ever so slightly undermined by a) the bad English and b) this, from a negative review of the same business:
And here is a sample of reviews of the self-same business on another reviews site:
Is it just us, or should we all begin to question the kind of operation - the review site this employee purports to work for and the review site that is hosting those negative reviews?
And just how many reviews sites are there out there?
We have counted nearly 700 in the English language alone!
We have also been in the reviews business for over ten years now and we reckon any business will reach over 90% of its market by focusing on just two...
...and will be nearly as effective if they focus simply on Google and then the site most often neglected:
It is only a review if it is independently verified - anything else is a testimonial
Of course some specialist review sites - like those in hospitality such as TripAdvisor and Booking.com - should be not be ignored (and we will advise accordingly), but just one glance at some of the publicly listed review sites' share prices will give you an indication of where they are headed.
But 'we want to be able to protect ourselves against unfair or inaccurate reviews' we hear you say...
Quite right. You need a system that allows you and your customer to interact before such a review is posted (we hear some say: 'but we have right-of-reply' - and that is correct, but it ignores the fact that the original - damaging - score stands and impacts your business's overall score).
Something like this.
You need a reviews solution that:
- will work for you irrespective of changes in the reviews landscape in future
- is compliant
- allows you to do your best to ensure inaccurate or misleading reviews - that are helpful to no-one - are posted