This week's BBC Watchdog, not for the first time, featured an elderly lady who had been ruthlessly defrauded by a tradesman, in this case, a tree surgeon. The story will be familiar: she sees a flyer advertising his services, he turns up with two assistants, quotes her £550 for what Watchdog's expert has assessed as a £350 job, does a dreadful job and then ramps up the charge to over £6,000, takes every penny of cash she has in the house and then 'helps' her make a bank transfer for the balance.
What should she have done?
Googled - or asked a relation or friend to Google - and then read the business's reviews (their Google reviews - more on that later*).
But - and this is currently a big 'but' - that relies on the business engaging with Google reviews. It is the business's responsibility to give its potential customers the confidence to use them.
Currently, tree surgeons in Essex (where the story above came from) are doing a very bad job, not at tree-lopping but at giving their potential customers the confidence to use them:
What should they be doing? Let's search for a similar 'man with a van' trade - oven cleaners, this time in Sussex:
And Sussex Oven Cleaning's underlying reviews?
*why Google reviews, why not Yelp or Yell or Trustpilot or Feefo or Trustatrader or Ratedpeople?
It's simple really:
- They are the most visible reviews on the web - by a mile
- They are the most trusted reviews - again, by a mile, thanks in part to 3. below
- They are free for the business
So why pay for one of the other mechanisms mentioned above, unless they are providing some advantage over and above Google (feel free to comment by clicking the button below)?
The downside of adopting a Google-centric reviews policy?
There's only one: you will need to ensure that you are seen to be inviting all your customers to post a review, for two reasons: in order to comply with the UK law as it relates to reviews and to be able to look prospective customers in the eye and be able to say 'our reviews are an accurate reflection of our business'.
That is where HelpHound comes in: aside from advising businesses on all aspects of reviews and review management we provide software to enable our clients to gather reviews and moderation for those reviews once they have been submitted by your customer.
The process is simple but essential: the review is submitted, it is then read by one of our moderators in order to establish if it is either factually inaccurate or has the potential to mislead someone reading (and relying on) the review. If that is the case we will refer to both reviewer - your customer - and the business under review; this inevitably results in a very high proportion of factually accurate and therefore helpful reviews (helpful to your potential customer and to your business).
Our message - to every single business...
For the sake of your prospective customers: Engage with Google reviews!
And if you are concerned as to just how to go about it without putting your business's reputation at risk - speak to us.