9 Questions To Assess Your Review Management Stress Levels

Actively engaging your customers in the review process and management of that process has its own sets of concerns. This is particularly true if you are too focused on certain areas of the process rather than others.

Take this simple quiz to see what your Review Management Stress levels are and to measure where you are on the Review Management Stress Scale (RMSS):

Did your reviews get reduced by more than 20% of the total by the new Google review filters?

Are you asking questions like: Why is this happening to me? Doesn’t Google care?

Did (or does) your listing have 100% or more reviews than your nearest competitor on Google?

Does your “More Reviews” section on Google show less than four review sites?

Do your clients often complain that their reviews are not showing at Google?

Have you thought: I should focus my review efforts on Yelp instead?

Are you handing users an iPad or directing them to an onsite workstation?

Are you sending out more than 20 emails a week requesting reviews at Google?

Are your following up only with happy customers and not every customer to ask them to leave reviews?

Scoring. Add 1 point for each yes answer.

What your score means…

 

If you scored between 1-3: You seem to be on the right track. You have a caring relationship with your customers, a thoughtful approach to the review sites and an awareness of how reviews across the whole internet improve your standing on all fronts.

If you scored between 4-6: There is room for improvement here. You seem to be trying a bit too hard and focusing too closely on a single review source. Either the review sites or your clients are not responding in the best possible way for your long term success. But you are doing some things right.

If you scored between 7-9: – Dude! Take a chill pill. You are driving your customers AND the review sites crazy. And worse you are driving yourself and your staff crazy. You are putting way to much emphasis on a single review site and expecting way too much from the process. This path is doomed to failure with your employees, the review sites, the search engines and most importantly your customers.


 

Ok. I admit it. The RMSS is a mere fabrication of a mind with too much time on its hands. It has no statistical validity. And the survey is somewhat tongue in cheek. It was inspired by the drivel that passes for content at Cosmopolitan magazine. But even on those surveys, there is often a grain of truth. Likewise with my survey.

Each question reflects a possible negative outcome of a review program if you answered yes. Each offers you an opportunity to refine your review process to help your organization project itself positively into the local ecosystem both online and off. More importantly the questions should lead to reflection that can improve your mental health. And if you can get into the spirit of it, less stress. Remember “Stressed” is “Desserts” spelled backwards.

Let’s go over the questions one by one.

Did your reviews get reduced by more than 20% of the total by the new Google review filters?
Google wants solid review content from trustworthy reviewers. If more than 20% of your reviews were taken down in the past 6 months either your methodology is too aggressive or you are asking the wrong people to leave reviews.

Are you asking questions like: Why is this happening to me? Doesn’t Google care?
There is absolutely nothing personal about the review take downs. Google perceives their long terms interests as being most achievable by removing the cruft and if they remove some good reviews in the process so be it. This is their call. And if you are asking these sorts of questions 1)you are driving yourself crazy and 2)you are focusing on the wrong things.

Did (or does) your listing have 100% or more reviews than your nearest competitor on Google?
If you are focusing all of your efforts on Google your review count was (and probably is no longer) way ahead of most in your industry. Google isn’t stupid. If you have a ton of reviews at Google and no place else you, are clearly soliciting reviews and Google’s spam review algo will catch more rather than less of these. If I can see it, you can see it and Google can see it, do you think that clients can’t see it? They too know you are cooking the books.

Does your “More Reviews” section on Google show less than four review sites?
You want to max out the display of review sites that Google shows about your business on their front page. This is important for a number of reasons. Firstly it indicates that you are giving your customers a lot of choices as to where to leave reviews. Secondly it increases the likelihood of gaining clients from the other sources. Last but not least, it would seem that Google (at least in their patent language) favors more 3rd part reviews rather than less as a ranking factor.

Do your clients often complain that their reviews are not showing at Google?
This is a failure on your part in two ways. You shouldn’t be sending all of your customers to one review site and when you do send them someplace, you should send them informed.

Customers should have a choice as to where to leave reviews. They will choose based on their comfort level. If you advise them upfront that Google and Yelp might bury their reviews if they are not active users of those services then they can make an informed choice and not blame you for either’s policies. And remember a single review at CitySearch is infinitely more valuable than 10 reviews that don’t show at Google and/or Yelp.

Have you thought: I should focus my review efforts on Yelp instead?
Right, this thought proves your mental state to be less than stable. You will get a fraction of the exposure and twice the grief with Yelp. Yelp should be in your review management plan but remember: Yelp is for Yelpers. Sending anyone else there is an act of pure futility. And selecting Yelp as an alternative to Google is going from the mental frying pan into the fire.

Are you handing users an iPad or directing them to an onsite workstation?
More & faster is not better with reviews. In fact very slow and very steady is best. With an onsite review station you run the risk of violating your client’s trust and having Google take your reviews down. There are a few limited situations where this might make sense but certainly not in most businesses and not in most offices. You are trying too hard and it will lead to both your and your client’s frustration.

Are you sending out more than 20 emails a week requesting reviews at Google?
Google doesn’t seem to take reviews down strictly because they were solicited by email. The algo is likely more sophisticated than that. However your foot print will be way too obvious if you are asking for reviews in bulk. 1)you will be getting too many reviews in too short of a time and 2)the reviewers are not likely to be ones that Google already trusts. The simple change of giving the users 4 or 5 places to leave reviews with reasons why they might pick one over the other would quickly solve the problem.

Another alternative would be to just hand a piece of paper with the same instructions. Remember you don’t need a million reviews to stand out, you need as many as is typical of your industry and they need to reflect positively on you.

Email review solicitation can work but it is important that you give clients lots of choices, that the process engenders reviews elsewhere and that the emails are spread out over time and not bunched heavily.

Are your following up only with happy customers and not every customer to ask them to leave reviews?
At the end of the day the purpose of reviews is to inform other potential customers about your services. The process of asking for reviews can and should be used to improve your services. If you are running your business well then giving voice to every customers that is willing to speak out is the best way to build a predominantly positive review corpus, gain an understanding of what needs to be improved and finding future customers that are right for you.

My conclusion?

If any process deserves a zen like approach it is the review management process. Slow is better than fast, fewer might be better than more, reviews on lesser sites might be better than reviews on more prominent sites. The review process shouldn’t drive you crazy, frustrate your clients and trigger spam filters. If your process is doing that rather than musing on how Google is out to get you, change what you are doing.

Sometimes “going with the flow” rather than fighting it will improve the outcomes and that it particularly true with customer reviews.

 

 

 

Please consider leaving a comment as your input will help me (& everyone else) better understand and learn about local.
9 Questions To Assess Your Review Management Stress Levels by

20 thoughts on “9 Questions To Assess Your Review Management Stress Levels”

  1. Great stuff, Mike. Thanks for posting.

    Because we all know that Cosmo reuses the same quiz over and over again, here are a few questions I thought of for the next glossy edition of RMSS:

    1. Are you paying a “reputation-management” company big bucks month in and month out to get reviews from your “customers” – without any other involvement on your part?

    2. Are you trying to get reviews because your rankings are in the sewer and you heard that simply getting a bunch of reviews will pull them up?

    3. Do you always ask your customers to go to one specific site or the other to write a review – and never say “hey, any site is fine with me if it’s convenient for you.”

  2. @Phil
    If I keep getting these sorts of comments on my review blog posts, it will definitely be run again with slight variations so thanks for the suggestions.

    I totally forgot about the “reputation management” companies…. I just assumed that they all went out of business. :) But you are absolutely right.

    In fact my “favorite” Honda dealer had been using one of those and he lost almost every review with the exception of my negative one.

    Which reminds me of one more question I get frequently: How come Google only leaves negative reviews up and takes down all the positive ones?

  3. Fun stuff, Mike. It really illustrates the changes taking place with the Google brand, today it makes sense when you call them a “review site”. A few years ago, heck maybe even last year at this time it would have been strange to think of Google in those terms.

  4. Mike,

    This is a must read… Like Phil, I was thinking about the “Reputation Marketing” companies. Unfortunately, they are still alive and well in the automotive vertical. Even after automotive was identified as “Spammy” by Google, “reputation marketing” companies are gaining footholds here.

    Since they can’t get reviews to stick on Google, Yelp or DealerRater, some “reputation marketing” companies courting this vertical are creating their own dealer-branded pseudo review sites to house THEIR reviews. Consumers easily recognize these sites for what they are and they have the same low trust factor as other advertising. In time this will be yet another addition to a long list of failed strategies to market a reputation instead of creating one through excellent service.

    Great Article!

  5. @Ryan
    As you point out, the customers will soon figure this out… Google will also. Which is why it would be better (and cheaper) to send folks to CitySearch, InsiderPages, Yahoo etc etc etc .

  6. @Gib
    Some of that is perception but you are most certainly right. I am doing some research at the moment that users are up to 3 times more likely to look at reviews at Google than at yelp in certain verticals.

  7. Mike, so many great points and I love the Cosmo survey angle!

    Off to share this, although I’m not sure why, since everyone I know already reads you! Still want to be sure on a busy post Holiday catch-up Monday, no one misses this post.

  8. Nope, I proudly admit I was NEVER a Cosmo reader actually.

    BUT I just love your humor and story angles. Always soooo entertaining as well as factual. (It would be so easy for a ‘Professor’ to be boring with as many facts as you poor out – but you never are!)

  9. Mike:

    I checked the review status of Blumenthals in google.com

    Currently when I searched on Blumenthals Olean, NY there was no accompanying map. So I went to Google Maps.

    Blumenthal’s has 34 reviews, and a PERFECT rating of 30 on the Zagat scale.

    When I searched for other “computer repair” businesses in Olean, NONE of them had reviews.

    You don’t have more than TWICE as many…you have an infinite more of them…than all combined!!!!

    Even a shnook like me under my real name gave you an EXCELLENT rating. :D

    Okay: The above observation is somewhat facetious and an anomaly. From scanning the reviews it appears that most (maybe all) addressed your “local services” rather than computer repair so its not really relevant to your comments vis a vis “stressing about reviews and having more than twice as many as any competitors.

    Still, suppose Google’s algorithmic review of reviews included smacking down all sites with a ranking of 30

    Hey those engineers are far from perfect!!!

  10. Hilarious Mike! I choked on my coffee reading this.

    A couple more to add to the list:

    1) Are you convinced that one negative review will be catastrophic for your business?
    2) Do you write your own reviews?
    3) Have you hired a company to post Google reviews on your behalf?

  11. Mike,

    Need evidence that there is still plenty of ignorance surrounding this topic? I copied this directly from a popular industry forum posted 2 hours ago by a vendor:

    “Yes, Google is filtering the heck out of reviews. It’s hard to get them to stick these days. I agree many people looking for cars trust Google, but there are other ways to get reviews in front of car buyers.

    Here’s a few tips we give our clients when submitting reviews for and in behalf of customers:

    Here are some tips to improve chances for sticking at Google+

    1. Only make it one sentence long, keeping it between 60-200 characters.
    2. Don’t mention the company name.
    3. Don’t mention any names period; e.g. “Dr.Smith was great”.
    4. Don’t mention the city or state..basically, don’t say anything of value.
    5. Here is an example of a review that is sticking almost every time ” I love this dentist and when I bring my kids here they really like the staff”
    6. Anything more than that seems to be wasting keystrokes.

    7. Never submit a review from the same computer or IP address

    Google’s filters are on high awareness. If you’re interested in a collection process that will automatically stream them to your website, visit (url removed to protect the guilty from themselves)”

    If you decide to launch Blumenthal’s Wall of Shame, please, let me know. ;)

  12. @Ryan
    Easy enough to disprove some of those “tips”.

    If you look at the last three reviews in this review corpus you will see that the average review length is 162 words (878 characters) on average with the longest coming in at 291 words (it runs 1569 characters). So much for the need for brevity. In one (mine), I mention the city of Buffalo twice. And Barbara and her assistant’s names are each mentioned in one of the other reviews…

    Clearly points 1,3,4 and 6 are out the window. I have no disproof of #2 or #5 but they seem suspect. As to #7 it is likely that reputable, reliable reviewers can share an IP address in certain circumstance. But the circumstances are very limited and likely to a lead to take downs for other reasons. Thus it doesn’t usually make a lot of sense to do.

  13. @Ted
    Glad you enjoyed this.

    All of your questions are certainly good indicators but not the folks that seem to be frequenting this blog. I recognize that it is bad form to make fun of my own readers, but all too many of them had actually posted or emailed the questions that I ended up using.

  14. Mike, what a great article. It is nice to know that almost everyone is having trouble with the “G” and with reviews in general. Yelp is really worthless in my opinion, because they “sandbox” everything unless the reviewer has 20+ reviews with Yelp. Google has not posted the last 5 reviews we got (patients complained to us about it) and they took away 5 others that were posted for months and put them with a “scraped” duplicate site they split off – we have been having this problem for about 2 years. Everytime they combine things after we complain, they split our listing again subsequently (very frustrating). I like your idea of giving people a list of places to review: City Search, Insider Pages, and Yahoo as well as Google. We also have received some nice reviews on KUDZU and they list your reviews from some other sites as well.

  15. I just wanted to say that this is a piece to print out and KEEP! You have so many little great nuggets of gold in this and I love it! Glad Linda pointed this out in her forum because somehow I missed this piece!

  16. Mike, I don’t know how many times I’ve said it and you agree. Take a blended approach to getting reviews on the internet and don’t just concentrate on Google. Matter of factly I stay away from Google, it’s the LAST place I attempt to get reviews posted too.

    I have some clients that have 8 or 9 mentions of “other” sites with reviews on them including the clients own site in the “Reviews from around the web section” of their plus listing.

    I just takes a system and a consistent way of asking each customer to leave a review for the business. Time works to the greatest advantage; not the, how many reviews can I get on my clients plus page in the shortest period of time.

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