What is Chatmeter’s Stance Against Review Gating
We need to talk about review gating. You may have seen a few reputation management companies encourage or promote their “reputation polishing” review tools lately. Look, we get it. An offer to increase your star ratings and lower the number of negative reviews sure sounds enticing. However, review gating directly violates the guidelines for multiple review sites. When it comes to our customers, we promise to never steer you towards shady review soliciting practices.
What is Review Gating?
Review gating is when a company sends out a request to their customers asking if their experience was negative or positive. If a customer selects positive, they can immediately leave an online review that will be pushed to third party review sites such as Google and Facebook. If a customer selects negative, instead of being able to leave a review, they are sent to a form where they can leave feedback with the company directly. The issue with this tactic is that the negative feedback is never made public for prospective customers to see. The company is deliberately hiding negative reviews and padding their positive online reviews, giving the public a skewed set of online reviews to make purchasing decisions from.
Review Gating Policies
Google and Yelp already have policies in place to discourage or prevent review gating. Since these are two of the largest sites for reviews, if you violate their policies, you’re putting your business at risk of losing reviews. Here are their current published rules on review gating/solicitation:
In addition to these guidelines, Yelp’s software is designed to look for biased reviews stating the following:
“Most businesses only target happy customers when asking for reviews which leads to biased ratings, so the recommendation software actively tries to identify and not recommend reviews prompted or encouraged by the business.”
Repercussions of Review Gating
Attempting to review gate is only going to cause more harm than good. Seriously, the repercussions are not worth the risk.
Google: If you violate Google’s review guidelines, don’t expect your reviews to stay online for long. Google has made it clear they will not hesitate to remove reviews that violate their guidelines.
Yelp: Violating Yelp’s review guidelines come with some pretty serious repercussions. If Yelp finds an indication of solicited reviews it will issue a search ranking penalty for your business. Say goodbye to first page results. If you continue to violate Yelp’s review policies you may be hit with a Consumer Alert on your Yelp business page. This warning is big, ugly, and a scary indication that consumers should not trust your business.
Strengthen Your Brand’s Reputation Without Review Gating
You may be thinking to yourself, ”wow this review gating thing would be great if it weren’t against the rules.” And although it may seem like a great idea, in a world of “fake news” the last thing we need is fake (or padded) reviews. That’s why we’ve built our platform to help you monitor and respond to reviews in a way that strengthens your brand, not tarnish it.
Face negative reviews head on.
Don’t let a negative review bring you down. 78% of consumers feel if a business responds to a review, it shows they care. Respond to negative reviews and offer a solution. Don’t have a solution for the problem yet? Let your customers know you hear them and you’re working on a way to solve their problem. When you respond to a review, 33% of customers will update the review to something positive and 34% will delete their negative review.
Negative reviews can be a good thing.
Stop worrying about getting a few negative reviews. If reviews look “too good to be true”… they probably are. A study by Spiegel Research Center found that purchase likelihood is greater in the 4.0 – 4.7 rating range and decreases as the ratings get closer to 5.0. Even if you get away with it, review gating can still cause damage to your bottom line.
Have a system for monitoring reviews.
The concept of review gating was built to help make sure those with negative experiences are heard and responded to. Consumer feedback is essential to the success of any business. You need a (legit) system in place to help make sure you’re reading and responding to all of your reviews. Our workflow system* is a great way to assign and notify your team of important tasks like responding to reviews or reaching out to customers who require additional support.
Review gating is not worth the trouble. Organic unsolicited reviews are the best reviews your company can receive. These are the true thoughts and feedback from your real customers and are more valuable than any solicited reviews can be.