Thursday 26 August 2021

Review denial - why?

We first wrote about this syndrome back in 2014 - who would have thought that there are still some corners of the marketing world where it persists in 2021?

This kind of Google entry is increasingly rare, simply because businesses cannot actively prevent anyone from leaving a Google review; more common are completely unmanaged listings such as the one below (this example is of a substantial London law firm, but it is reprsentative of many others)...

Now, we could fill this post with many more examples of businesses and professions that have yet to engage with Google reviews, but, since this article is aimed fairly and squarely at them it would probably be counter-productive. After all, they almost certainly know who they are.

So, let's first mine our decade-plus of experience and see if we can work out just what is holding them back.

Reasons we are given for not engaging with Google reviews

1.  We don't need any more business

2.  Our clients/patients will not want to be asked to write a publicly visible review

3.  The nature of our business - confidentialitysensitivity - precludes us from inviting our clients/patients for a review

4.  We are concerned that some reviewers - given the highly technical nature of our business - will write factually inaccurate or potentially misleading reviews

5.  None of our competitors have engaged with reviews

6.  We don't have the resources - human 

7.  We don't have the resources - financial

8.  We will go it alone 

9.  We have engaged - with a reviews site

10. We're not sure just how much value a professional review management strategy will add

Let's deal with these in order (you can skip to your favourite if you like):

1. 'Don't need any [more] business...'

Rare, admittedly, but we have encountered it. The kind of business that doesn't even have a website; after all, if a business is prepared to invest in having a website and the associated hosting fees, surely they must have done so with the intention of generating more business? And then - as reviews are proven beyond all doubt to produce more business - we have to conclude that any business with a website needs review management.

2.  'Client/patient will not want to write a review...'

Completely understandable. Until you look at similar businesses in 'sensitive' areas that have succeeded in engaging their clients or patients - how much more sensitive and confidential than womens' health can a service be? Yes, they will write reviews such as this one...


Remember that you will not be forcing or in any way coercing anyone into writing a review; in this context, the wording of the invitation email is essential (and we have years of experience in advising on this and seeing the positive real-world results).

3.  'Confidentiality precludes...'

This applies to so many essential services: legal, financial and medical are just the tip of a very large iceberg. Again, no one, least of all the business asking for the review, will be asking anyone to divulge any confidential information* - even their real name (avatars are acceptable - only Google/HelpHound will hold their email address); and you won't be pathfinding on behalf of your profession, the concept of reviews has been proven beyond any reasonable doubt, in every sphere of business.

*every single review written through HelpHound is moderated for factual inaccuracy, potentially misleading statements and disclosure of potentially confidential information before it is published on the business's website, let alone to Google.

4.  'Factually inaccurate or potentially misleading...'

This is the one single factor that most often prevents professional businesses from enaging with reviews. Either that or they take the chance that the CMA won't descend on them for cherry-picking happy customers to write reviews (see 'CMA core regulations' link under 8. below). 

These kinds of review benefit no one - the business under review, the potential client relying on the review or the reviewer themselves, and that's one of the main reasons why businesses engage HelpHound: every review HelpHound publishes on a business's website is moderated beforehand: checked for factual inaccuracies and potentially misleading statements. Only then is the reviewer invited to copy their review to Google.

5.  'None of our competitors...'

Highly unlikely, but in the event that you operate in such a rarified environment wouldn't it be a great idea to be the first?

6/7.  'We don't have the human/financial resources...'

To increase incoming enquiries by 20-30 percent? We positively guarantee that professional review management will more than pay for whatever resources you devote to it. And adding HelpHound to oversee your engagement with Google reviews will cost little more than a decent mobile phone contract per location.

8.  'We will go it alone...'

Fine. Better than doing nothing - perhaps. But, as with any professional adviser, HelpHound expects the rewards for its clients to far and away exceed the cost, always. Just read 'Results with a capital R' and we're sure you will see what we mean.

Oh! and by the way, most businesses that have developed an independent strategy with Google reviews are in breach of one or more of the CMA's core regulations - almost always unwittingly (not that that will influence the CMA's enforcement teams!).

On top of this, the benefits of hosting your own reviews on your own website are now proven beyond all doubt: the obvious being that consumers can read reviews there without resorting to Google where they will be shown reviews of your competiors; the less obvious, but no less important benfit being that hosting your own reviews gives you SEO credit with Google and enables them to be moderated, thereby reducing the chances that an inaccurate or misleading review sees the light of day - on your site or on Google.

9.  'We have engaged a review site...'

This is a tricky one; review sites did have a role to play before Google became so overwhelmingly dominant in the review space, now, with very few exceptions, businesses are better advised to go down the Google route. First, just google your own business and then, for good measure, google a competitor: what do you see? Yes, Google reviews. Then, as if that were not convincing enough, ask yourself, would my business rather have 100 Google reviews or 100 on [ABC review site]? For an even more detailed answer to that question read this article.

10. 'Value added...'

Read this comment made by a client of one of our clients. 

As the lawyers in the example at the top of this article might say: 'We rest our case'.

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