Wednesday 11 April 2018

Estate agents banned - the implications for every business

Today's Times piece is here, yesterday's PIE story is here

The article goes on to report that 'The two men were fined by the Competition and Markets Authority, alongside the other four estate agency groups, paying a combined £370,084 in September last year.'

Most of you will have read about this in the national press or one or other of the business forums. "But we are not involved in commission or price-fixing, so what has this got to do with us?" we hear you say.

Our answer: It has everything to do with you. Why? Because the government agency that imposed both the fine (the Competition and Markets Authority) and the ban is the same agency that regulates how businesses - all UK businesses - use reviews.

Put simply: if your business is inviting reviews from customers and is not...
  • inviting all your customers to post a review
  • at a time of their own choosing is breaking the law.

Put even more bluntly...

If your business...
  • is selecting customers to invite to write a review (commonly called cherry-picking)
  • employing a mechanism that allows you to prevent those who write a negative review from having that review published
  • is choosing the time you invite or allow your customer to write a review (e.g. only at point of purchase) is breaking the law.

We estimate currently that - of businesses proactively inviting reviews to any platform, be that Google or an independent reviews site - over 90% are guilty of one or more of the three practices listed above.

Why? Because they know that a dissatisfied customer is so much more likely to be motivated to post a review and they feel that they are forced to take action to redress that balance. 

There is another way. We are often asked why our clients look so good and the answer is a simple one: first and foremost they are good businesses, focused on customer service at their core, but one of the things that reassured them when they joined HelpHound was our Resolution™ moderation mechanism which enables them to address factually inaccurate or potentially misleading reviews pre-publication. It expressly does not prevent a customer posting a review - even an inaccurate or misleading one - but it does enable the business and their customer to have a dialogue and 'resolve' those kinds of issues before the review is published for all the world to see (and it's just as popular with consumers as it is with our clients).

Further reading:

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