On April 12th, 2018 Google updated its Google My Business Listing (GMBL) policies. Google is all about the user experience, and this policy update is specifically focused on ensuring the consumer (user) is provided the good, the bad, and the ugly about your business.
“DON’T DISCOURAGE OR PROHIBIT NEGATIVE REVIEWS OR SELECTIVELY SOLICIT POSITIVE REVIEWS FROM CUSTOMERS.”
In the past, businesses have requested favorable reviews from consumers. The dissatisfied, or disgruntled consumer was often ignored or left unnoticed. Businesses have conducted review-gating in a number of ways as part of their reputation management strategy. In its desire to provide relevant, accurate and truthful information to its billions of users, review-gating is now a violation of the Google My Business policies.
Past Review Practices
In the past, businesses would send out a follow up email questionnaire to customers asking about their experience. Satisfied customers were directed to leave a Google review, while dissatisfied customers were asked to provide more details and were not provided with the Google review link. This process is considered review-gating and goes against GMBL policies.
Reviews play a large factor in getting clients to trust your business with their needs. The standard advice on seeking review has always been, and will remain, to address every review. Thank your customers who leave positive reviews and address your neutral and negative reviews with care and consideration. Let your potential customers see your resolution skills at work and show them through your handling of difficult customers what your brand is all about. All reviews can be changed, and you can make that part of your resolution process.
Stop review-gating. As this rule was only clarified on April 12th, businesses should not expect penalties from any previous activity. However, the penalty for ignoring this policy is that every review acquired after April 12th will be removed from your listing.
While this may seem like a scary idea, ask all your customers for reviews. You will find that customers are more likely to be honest and open when you aren’t present. As the Chief Customer Officer at Enterasys says, “Your brand is what people say about you when you leave the room.”
- Review the policies and procedures for every business listing
- Find a comprehensive Social Media Management Platform
- Solicit Reviews from every customer
- Respond to reviews promptly
- Use negative review opportunities to build your resolution skills and your brand