Wednesday 8 April 2020

The ABC of Reviews

Consumers - they'll be back. And when they return those businesses that look great in search...

...will benefit.

But it is clear from what we see crossing our desks and screens every day that the level of knowledge amongst many managers when it comes to reviews is still fairly basic. Businesses are commonly flouting the law or committing other acts of self-harm, so we are taking the opportunity presented by this lockdown to run a series of 'how-to' articles. If you follow these now, when activity picks up again you will see tangible financial benefits, we promise.

Here are the provisional subject headings and some may, at first, appear to be basic but we make no apologies for that; great review management is built on sound basics. 

  1. Do reviews matter? The key question all businesses must answer before they embark on any course of review management: will a proactive review management strategy win more business?
  2. Reviews: the Law - most businesses, wittingly or unwittingly, currently break the law regarding reviews. Some don't even realise that reviews are governed by the law.
  3. What will happen if we do nothing? A sensible question that all businesses should answer before taking the plunge (or not, as the case may be).
  4. Where should our reviews be seen? There are numerous sites that host reviews, as well as Google, so which one(s) to adopt?
  5. How will customers react when invited to write a review? This is a major concern, especially for businesses where technically, financially or medically complex services are at issue.
  6. How are other businesses gaming the system? You will have seen businesses boasting of their wonderful reviews and great scores. How did so many achieve them?
  7. Can we do it for nothing? You may be surprised by the answer to this question!
  8. Rewards and incentives. Now here's a minefield: can you reward customers for writing a review? Most sites that host reviews, including Google, have strict T&Cs when it comes to rewarding those who write reviews.
  9. Targets. What should a business aim for, in terms of flow, absolute numbers of reviews and scores? Here are some rules of thumb.
  10. Responding to reviews. The how, when and where of this thorny subject.

And Finally: Our pitch to you!


If there are any topics that are not covered in this list please don't hesitate to suggest them. There's a reward for any suggestion that we publish.

As these ten 'chapters' are written we will include a link to the title above, so you can bookmark this page and check back. Alternatively, you may subscribe to this blog and be sent the articles as they are published by entering your email address in the box to the right.

A word for those new to HelpHound

These articles are designed to inform so we're sure you will want to know something about the people doing the informing. HelpHound has been around for well over ten years now, so we have accumulated a wealth of experience about reviews: their impact, for good or for bad, on both businesses and consumers, the many pitfalls awaiting the unwary, the regulations, the law and Google's terms of service. We call this 'review management' to differentiate ourselves from the plethora of review sites.

  • HelpHound is a review manager, not a review site

We know reviews from every angle, we were once a reviews site and we have client businesses that have proven the concept of proactive review management over and over again. 

  • HelpHound prides itself on knowing more about the world of reviews than any other entity, worldwide.

Our only interest is in helping great businesses achieve more, we are not remunerated in any way by Gooogle or anyone else but our happy customers. Unlike the review sites - Trustpilot, Yelp, Feefo and the like - you own the reviews, not HelpHound. They are your customers, after all. We exist to enable you to display those reviews with complete credibility so your future customers will trust them and, by extension, your business and go on to take that vital step: making contact with you.

  • HelpHound only succeeds if you succeed (unlike review sites, which commonly budget for churn rates that can be as high as 25%, our pricing is based on 98% customer satisfaction, so we have a huge incentive to keep producing the goods for our clients, year-in year-out).

If you are asking one or more of the following questions:

  • will review management bring measurable financial benefits?
  • what are the potential risks and pitfalls, and how can these be mitigated?
  • what about the review sites' benefits and drawbacks?
  • should we be asking our customers to post reviews direct to Google?
  • If so, how do we protect ourselves against malicious or unfair reviews?
  • is our business currently complying with the law, and if not, how can we best comply?
  • is it legal to selectively invite our customers to write reviews?
  • is it legal to prevent certain people from writing a review?
  • is our business currently in compliance with Google's terms of service?
  • why is Google allowing searchers to filter us out of search (if we score less than 4.5)?
  • we have a score of [x] and [y] reviews on Google, is that sufficient?
  • What may/will happen if we continue to be non-compliant?
  • we have an unfair/inaccurate/malicious/misleading review on Google - what action should/can we take?
  • we have been sold a review solution that is not working - can we change now?

We will have the answer to these - and more, not a theoretical answer but the correct answer born out of hard real-life experience. Just a click or a call away - and you may even find some in the ensuing articles.

A note on charges:

Before we even think about charging a client a fee we conduct a thorough audit of all the business's exposure to reviews. This audit will include a summary of the status quo as well as our concrete recommendations to achieve the business's objectives.

We charge in two ways: a small monthly fee for our software and hourly fees for advice, in much the same way as your other professional advisers. We will tell you at outset, in writing, whichever way - often both, at least until your review management regime is properly embedded - will be the most appropriate for your business.

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