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How to Ask for a Review

By: Patrick Hagarty

 

On April 12, 2018, Google updated its review guidelines. This update is regarding review solicitation: Google no longer allows what in the industry is known as “review-gating”—the practice of discouraging negative reviews.

To explain how review-gating works, picture a brand’s webpage with a form-fill asking you about your customer experience. If you provide positive feedback (3, 4, or 5 stars), you are sent to a page asking you to review them on Google. If you were to leave negative feedback (1 or 2 stars), you most likely won’t be sent to a page that asks you to share a review; instead, you would be redirected to internal customer service to get your matter dealt with privately.

To date, this has been a highly effective way for businesses to get positive reviews on their listings and improve their overall review rating. Now that industry giants like Google (Yelp also has a similar policy) are specifically stating they are against review-gating, and threatening to remove all reviews of a business that gets caught, the risk is simply too high. If you are using a piece of software, you should make sure it doesn’t use review-gating as a tactic.

This recent change in the review side of listings may prompt you to consider: “What is the correct way to ask for a review?” To this I have two different ways you can go about asking without breaking these new rules.

  1. Use email software, but don’t practice review-gating. This approach is risky for two reasons: one, it can lead to an increase in negative reviews on a listing as people are more likely to leave feedback after a negative experience. Also, this is still technically against the Yelp and Google guidelines so there is some risk if you get caught. Without review-gating, it may be less obvious that you are soliciting for these reviews. So you need to ask yourself: Is the risk worth the reward?

  2. Solicit feedback from customers for internal purposes. This feedback can be used to help improve the landing page experience, but it can and should also be used to improve the customer experience across all your locations. If done right, this method can provide specific feedback about each individual store and this can then be addressed at each location. If you improve the experience the review score will also go up. This method may take longer - but at the end of the day, you will be offering an overall better experience, which will lead to a better bottom line.

This move by the industry giants to be against review solicitation is an attempt on their part to make the review section speak more truly to the customer experience and to deflate some of the inflated review scores that exist. We now need to learn how to play within the new rules that are set out for us.

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