Thursday 15 August 2019

Repairing the damage: a case history

The problem with being 'sold' a solution, as opposed to 'buying' a solution, is often that the 'sold' solution will have done your business harm long before you notice that any damage. 

This was the case with a client of ours when we first met last year. They had taken a reviews site on board and - as far as they were concerned - everything was going swimmingly. But was it? Luckily a well-respected industry figure suggested they speak to HelpHound.

What did we find? Whenever we meet a prospective client for the first time we conduct a full audit. This covers...

  • The business's current exposure to Google reviews - or lack of it in many cases
  • The business's current exposure to reviews sites - this will be exhaustive, covering  general sites (sites that host reviews of any kind of business) such as Yelp, Trustpilot, Feefo and Facebook and industry-specific sites (in the case of estate agents this would be allAgents and GetAgent, in the case of hotels, Tripadvisor and the like)
  • Compliance - almost every business we meet has compliance issues. It is increasingly important for businesses to take professional advice to ensure that they comply with both the letter and the spirit of the law regarding reviews 
In the case of this estate agency - a group with twenty plus locations - we found the following:

1.  Their individual locations looked good on the reviews site they had been sold...

...but they should have better. Why? Because the reviews on this site are not moderated - and why should they be? After all, the site is designed for reviews of shirts and shoes - products, not sophisticated services. Without a reviews solution that incorporates moderation (see the end of this article for a full explanation) the business is always going to leave itself open to unfair criticism, and that leads to a misleading impression being created in the eyes of potential customers. 

2.  They were creating a universally negative impression across almost all their locations on Google...

...thanks to deflection. Deflection is where the business invites customers to post a review to the site of its choosing and its happy customers do as they are asked, but unhappy customers say 'No, I'll post it where it will hurt them most - by being the most visible - and that's on Google'.  For a full explanation see 'Further reading' below.

3.  They had compliance issues as a direct result of the reviews site they had adopted. The CMA's regulations specifically state that if a business invites any of its customers to write a review it must enable all of its customers to do so - at a time of their choosing. The following is an extract from the letter to businesses sent by the CMA back in August 2016...

Feefo is a closed site - that means that the business controls the timing of the invitation to write the review and therefore the timing of the review. That is non-compliant with the CMA regulations. More than that it is 

Our conclusion

The business had been sold the wrong solution - in this case, a solution designed expressly to meet the needs of online retailers, not high-value and complex transactional service businesses such as estate agency. It needed a solution that was expressly tailored to its own needs. 

Our advice

Our advice was simple: 

  1. Adopt a compliant solution
  2. Adopt a moderated solution 
  3. Focus on Google and the business's own website - get reviews to both

CMA compliance is a given in every piece of advice we ever give; moderation is essential if the reviews are going to be accurate and therefore helpful for potential clients; the business - and all its locations - needed to look good on Google, not on an independent site, simply because its prospective customers are all looking at Google; it needed reviews on its own website, not only in order to facilitate moderation but also to engage visitors to its site and to supply a vital SEO 'kicker' to help its locations up the local search ranks.

The results

The business's locations are now scoring an average well above 4 on Google. They look great on their own websites -and are providing the SEO kicker Google want there - and their reviews are accurate on both platforms. 

Further reading...

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