Thursday 13 December 2018

Selecting customers to write reviews - the less obvious consequence

Clients and regular readers will be all too aware that the UK government has rules regarding customer reviews. Clients need not concern themselves because they are already compliant - by having HelpHound's 'write a review' button on your websites. But those yet to join?

If your business - or any of your employees - are selecting customers to write reviews, anywhere, but especially to Google, you are not in compliance with the CMA regulationsLet's be clear about these; they are not, as we sometimes hear, 'guidelines', they are regulations with the force of law.

But there are other, perhaps more immediate, implications that can have serious repercussions for your business. Take the following real-life example...

Non-compliance in a competitive marketplace

Business A hires a member of staff from business B (a competitor). You know the kind of thing, it happens all the time. But in this instance the new member of staff comes with a nugget of information in addition to all the usual baggage. The conversation goes something like this...

Director of business 'A': 'How does business 'B' have so many great reviews and so few negatives with such a great Google score?'

New staff member: 'We were told to select customers who were most likely to write a five star review and then do whatever was needed to get the review written to Google'.

Director: 'Were you aware that the regulators don't allow that?

New staff: 'Yes - but we were in such a competitive market the directors insisted.'

Now we move on to Business A's next Monday morning briefing meeting; the usual things are discussed, but just before the meeting breaks up the director says...

'I would like to tell you all the reason Business B's reviews and scores look so good: they are cherry-picking.'

Staff member: 'What do you think we should do about that?'

Director: 'If a potential clients references Business A in conversation, and especially their great reviews and scores, you should point out to them the reason they look so good.'

We will leave readers to draw their own conclusions as to the reaction of any potential customer of a business when informed that the business in question is breaking the law (and in such a way as to wilfully mislead customers).

Meanwhile, for those new to the CMA regulations - here is the full text of their letter to businesses along with our point-by-point analysis.

Businesses should also be aware of the following - from Google's own T&Cs:

'Don’t discourage or prohibit negative reviews or selectively solicit positive reviews from customers.'

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