Wednesday 24 February 2016

Resolution™ - the Owner's Manual

It is high time we revisited our old friend Resolution, for established clients as well as recent adopters. Resolution - our name for the act of moderating reviews pre-publication - is like the spare tyre in the boot of your car: you hope you never have to use it, but when you do you want to be absolutely sure it works. And for that you need some instructions; here they are.

Resolution™ - taking the 'fear' out of reviews

There is a very good reason why most businesses, especially high-value service businesses and the professions, have not fully - or compliantly* - engaged with reviews and that is the well-founded fear that a single well-written but inaccurate or misleading review has the potential to do significant damage to their business's reputation.

That is why Resolution™ exists - there's not a day that goes by that our moderators don't forward a review like this to a client. And guess who is often happiest that we do? The reviewer! People don't want to write inaccurate reviews, but - being human - they sometimes do. Resolution minimises the chances of a review like this being published - and it works (just ask any of our clients).

* 'compliantly': compliance with UK law when inviting reviews is a whole subject on its own; for a full explanation, read this article.

The nuts and bolts...

The process
  1. You invite your customer to write a review - or, in the case of a HelpHound client, your customer avails themselves of the link on your website to do so
  2. Your customer posts their review 
  3. The review is read by one of our moderators
  4. If it contains no issues the review is immediately put live on your website and the reviewer is asked, by HelpHound, automatically, to copy it to Google
  5. If it contains a comment that is potentially misleading or inaccurate, our moderator will send it to you (whilst simultaneously telling the reviewer that it has been forwarded to you)
  6. You respond to the reviewer
  7. At the end of the Resolution process, when our moderators see that the 'conversation' has been concluded, we invite the reviewer to post their final review
Phases 4 - 7 bear closer examination...

Phase 4: Resolving issues pre-publication

No consumer wants to read inaccurate and/or misleading reviews. If those reviews do harm to the business, which they will, no-one benefits. It is an anomaly yet to be resolved that a scoring system - like the Google 1 - 5 stars - does not take into account inaccurate reviews: in theory - and quite often in practice - a business can have a terrible Google score as a result of half a dozen completely unfair and/or inaccurate reviews (we are often contacted by businesses that have seen enquiries fall off and/or are failing the Google filter because of this). 

Phase 5: Engaging with your customer through Resolution™

This works very effectively: your customer welcomes the mechanism with open arms - as a non-confrontational way to correct any misleading or inaccurate content in their review.

Important note: Resolution is all about correcting potentially misleading or factually inaccurate reviews - it is emphatically not a way of 'filtering out' negative reviews. In this sense it is important to note that Resolution can be just as vital in the context of some otherwise positive reviews - those that mention financially sensitive information or rate the business as 5* but include otherwise misleading or incorrect information.

Phase 6: Responding to the reviewer

We encourage our clients to respond through the moderation system, rather than picking up the 'phone or emailing direct. Why? Because we have plenty of experience that tells us that if your customer has chosen to communicate via a review - at your invitation - then they react more positively if you respond through the same mechanism. Of course, you, (and we) can take every case on its merits - that's one of the strengths of the system: it is infinitely flexible. 

On top of this, we get many comments from reviewers saying how much they welcome HelpHound's third-party involvement. Our clients and their customers also value our moderators' counsel when drafting responses.

Phase 7: Inviting the final review

This is the crucial element of the process that gives your reviews their credibility: the fact that every reviewer has a right to have their opinion heard - and are aware of this from the outset. Being able to say that to prospective customers wins business. The fact that so few reviewers who have had inaccurate or potentially misleading reviews moderated go on to publish a final review is a tribute to the effectiveness of the system in resolving issues - it is a fantastic CRM tool - and is wholeheartedly welcomed by consumers. 

A Case History

We have one client who to date has had over 70 cases through Resolution (across multiple branches). Only four of these have resulted in a final published review, either on their website or on Google. They currently score between 4.7 and 4.9 on their own websites (with over 800 reviews there) and between 4.5 and 5.0 on Google (with over 600 reviews there).
It goes without saying that this is a well-managed and thoroughly consumer-focused business - as HelpHound clients tend to be, by definition.


Over the years of seeing thousands of conversations in moderation we have built up a wealth of experience, so please do ask for our advice if you are in any doubt as to how a response should be worded.

N.B. Resolution is definitively not a mechanism for businesses to 'head off negative comment', it is a mechanism to ensure that - as far as possible - comments are fair and accurate, so if your business, or a member of staff, has made a mistake then your customer is 100% entitled to refer to this in their review - and score your business accordingly. Indeed, if a customer wants to post a review that they know to be inaccurate (few do), they have the right to do so - remembering that you always have the right-of-reply.


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