90% of us read reviews before using a business, so what happens if you come across positive and negative reviews? Do they change your mind? Because apparently, 92% of consumers will use or purchase from a local business if it has at least a 4-star rating.
That’s not surprising given that we trust online reviews almost the same amount we trust friends and family word-of-mouth. Therefore, some businesses take matters into their own hands and opt to only show 4 or 5-star reviews. This is basically what review gating is about.
Review gating is what happens when a business sends only their happy customers to write reviews on their Google or Facebook page. This essentially rules out negative reviews being published for the world to see.
Review Gating Simplified: How It Works
Firstly, the customer receives an email or SMS message that asks if they have had a positive or negative experience with a business. Based on their response of “happy” or “unhappy” (or “thumbs up” or “thumbs down” etc.), the result would be something like this:
Customer is satisfied scenario → “We’re happy to hear you were pleased with our services! Click here to leave us a 5-star review on Google or Facebook!”
Customer is dissatisfied scenario → “Oh no! That’s not what we wanted to hear. How can we improve? Please go here (link to the business website or internal form) to leave us feedback.”
See the difference?
The dissatisfied customer is not prompted or directed to leave a review.
What Are The Risks Associated With Review Gating?
You’re risking having your Google reviews removed. That’s right. Not only the ‘gated’ reviews, all of them!
Google’s official review guidelines state – “Don’t discourage or prohibit negative reviews or selectively solicit positive reviews from customers.” Some people may see review gating as clever and handy, but is it really worth the consequences?
Final Thoughts on Review Gating
Google and LANA don’t suggest clients implement this strategy as there are serious repercussions for going against policy. We understand that below-average reviews can affect a business’s reputation, but authentic reviews build trust and should be a true reflection of your customers’ experience.
LANA’s viewpoint is that there are inherent risks in the approach of creating a review gating mechanism and that a greater number of natural review scores (i.e. positive and negative) is better than a smaller number of all positive reviews.
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