Wednesday 23 November 2022

Is your business running the risk of suffering from review 'Dry Rot'?

This was an analogy used by a client recently: that a business's review policy could suffer from 'wet rot' - meaning it had obvious flaws: a low score, a preponderance of damaging one-star reviews, not enough reviews and suchlike.

But 'dry rot'? It's an insidious, slow-burning but ultimately very time-consuming and costly to repair 'disease' not immediately visible to the untrained eye.

Just as dry rot is every homeowner's ultimate nightmare, so should its equivalent in review management be every business's. Look at this example...

Scoring 4.3. Not so very bad? Not, that is, until a prospective fee payer does what almost all consumers of high-value services do in 2022: compare the business with local alternatives and mine down into the negative reviews. The local comparison first:

Nowhere to be seen in this local search. The searcher has, as is more and more common these days, used the Google filter - see top right - to shed any business scoring less than 4.5.

Suppose they do persevere, or have come across the business in other ways (personal recommendation or the business's own marketing, for instance)? They will still search for the business and be presented with Google reviews. And when they look at those reviews? They will invariable filter by...

This then exposes the potential customer to no less than 39 one-star reviews, one after the other. Here is the most recent, just to give you a flavour...

This constitutes a case of the above mentioned 'dry rot'. Why? Because many potential fee-earners will be deflected from making contact with the business. One or two 1* reviews may be ignored or glossed over, half a dozen will begin to erode confidence, more than that will begin to counteract the business's marketing big-time (and will also be referenced by competitors when pitching).

What should the business have done?

It should have adopted a moderated review management system. This would have ensured that most of those reviews which were based on misconceptions or errors of fact would never have seen the light of day, at least not in the form in which they were first written.

What should the business do now?

The same. The first action would be to go through each and every negative review to see if their are any grounds for appeal to Google. There are bound to be some. This is not to say that Google will remove many but it is certainly worth the time and effort. 

Next: begin actively inviting reviews to the business's website and to Google. But via an independent moderator such as HelpHound. It will be a long process with a business with so many negative reviews but time and effort (and moderation) should at least see the business's score clamber its way above 4.5. And the proportion of 1* reviews will drop over time.

The alternative - doing nothing but piling good reviews on top of bad - is no solution.

A note on moderation

Moderation does not exist to neutralise negative consumer comment. It exists to ensure that, as far as is possible under UK law, reviews are written with access to the full facts of the case to hand, and are therefore fair to both business and reviewer and, importantly, provide a reliable guide to the business under review for future consumers. This sometimes means initiating a mediated dialogue between the reviewer and the business under review. It benefits everyone...

  • the reviewer: because their review will be accurate
  • the reader of the review: for the same reason
  • the business: which will see its activities fairly reflected in its Google reviews 

Further reading...

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