The ‘fear factor’
It is the reason we are most given when we meet businesses that have yet to engage with reviews – “we are afraid”. Sometimes it is voiced exactly like that – and with very good reason. Before we show you the solution let us look a little deeper in that ‘fear’.
Once a review is written – on Google or on Facebook (and on any other platform including the compliant* independent sites) it is, to all intents and purposes, there for life, unless it contravenes their T&Cs, which reviews seldom do.
*surprisingly, there are non-compliant solutions being marketed to businesses in the UK at the moment
Two very distinct types of review
There are product reviews and service reviews – and the difference is fundamental, so let’s deal with them individually.
- Product reviews – clothing, household goods, technology and so on tend to be of the ‘I loved it’ (5 stars) or ‘I hated it’ (1 star) with most people falling into the first category (after all, if you buy a pair of shoes there’s a good chance you will be thrilled when you take them out of the box)
- Service reviews – the professions (accountancy, law, medical, financial services, education, estate agency) where there is a significant degree of human interaction, often over a protracted period of time. The reviews is being written of a relationship – and often a complex one.
It is this second category that provokes the most fear. And rightly so: a review that says “I did not like the shoes” does little harm. A review that says “they completely messed up my tax return and then ignored all my emails and phone calls” has the capacity – and, in some cases, rightly so – to do lasting harm to a business.
So it is service businesses that fear reviews – and that is the reason, above all others, that service businesses have avoided engaging with reviews.
Managing the ‘fear factor’ – the solution…
The first thing to say is that there is no legally compliant solution that allows businesses to deflect legitimate negative reviews. There are solutions being sold to businesses that have that effect, but we are guessing that if you have read this far you are not in the market for one of those.
But there is a solution that allows businesses and consumers to identify and correct misleading and/or inaccurate reviews before they are publicly published, and that is where HelpHound comes in.
There is a full description here, but in a nutshell our Resolution system works in four simple steps as follows:
- All reviews are moderated – read – by a human moderator (no software yet devised, as Google and Facebook are learning to their cost, has yet replaced human intervention)
- Those that contain no issues are published to the business’s own website and the reviewer is asked to copy their review to Google
- Those that appear to be inaccurate or potentially misleading are forwarded to the business for comment (in private)
- All the while the reviewer is aware that they have a right to publish a review – either their original or a modified version
So – in plain English – if the reviewer has got the wrong end of the stick they are given the opportunity to correct their review before it is published. If, on the other hand, your business has genuinely made a mess of things, then the reviewer is allowed – at any time during the process – to publish their review. And the business is allowed to respond, publicly.
Let us look at an obvious example, first for a business that is not a HelpHound client and then for one that is:
- a tenant has an issue with the agent’s viewing procedure, they write a 1* review of the estate agent on Google. The agent responds – again, on Google – explaining that the issue was about staff security. The agent’s score on Google is impacted by the 1* review – Google do not invite the reviewer to post a fresh review or modify the score they have allocated the business
- a tenant has an issue with the agent’s viewing procedure, they write a 1* review of the estate agent through HelpHound. Our moderator forwards the review to the estate agent (the reviewer is informed simultaneously) and the estate agent responds – privately – explaining the situation to the tenant. No erroneous 1* review on Google, no erroneous 1* review on the business’s site. Job done.
Here is the actual review and the agent’s – private – response:
From this you will gather that HelpHound is neither on the side of the business nor the consumer – we are on the side of accuracy. Inaccurate reviews – and scores (increasingly used as an ‘at a glance’ benchmark for consumers) benefit no-one. Lack of reviews because the business is afraid to engage benefit no-one either.
Two years ago this business had two reviews on Google…
And none on its own website…
So it was missing out on the power of reviews to drive business – not any more.
If you run a service business, you should seriously consider using HelpHound. You will be able to actively engage with reviews without fear.