Doing Reputation and Review Management for Clients, (Better Read This) Before going any further

54 replies
Are you providing review and reputation management? You should be aware of the possible implications of using certain systems can expose you and your clients too.

Google has updated their perspective in regards to online reviews on the Google + Local platform.

https://productforums.google.com/for...ue/HjNuoboBL1A


P.S: I'd like to say I am back and the behest of many personal friends and my own users despite what I said on my last post from a couple of months ago or so.

P.S.S. Please keep replies germane to the topic of this thread. No need to drudge up old stuff.
#client #management #read #reputation #review
  • Profile picture of the author CyberAlien
    It's a hassle for reputation management companies that aren't really following ethical standards and posting fake reviews, I don't see it really effect legit companies much.
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  • Profile picture of the author SirThomas
    Welcome back Rus!

    Yes, it looks like they made few very clear statements that "may" force some RM providers to change their systems:

    1. Don’t set up a computer or tablet device in your place of business for customers to leave reviews on site.

    2. we don’t allow you to give customers free gifts or discounts for leaving reviews.

    3. If a business accepts paper comment cards it might be tempting to collect them and “digitize” them by posting the reviews on Google+ Local.

    No "grey area"
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  • Profile picture of the author globalpro
    Thanks for posting this Rus...

    and it is good to see you back.

    John
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  • Profile picture of the author Defacto
    I advise my clients to offer gifts for "customer appreciation", not for a review. That the review card is also present is a happy coincidence.
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    • Profile picture of the author Eddie Spangler
      Originally Posted by Defacto View Post

      I advise my clients to offer gifts for "customer appreciation", not for a review. That the review card is also present is a happy coincidence.

      Here is a lovely card to thank you for supporting this project congressman,
      that there is a check with your name on it inside is simply a happy coincidence for you.
      Signature
      Promise Big.
      Deliver Bigger.
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    • Profile picture of the author DABK
      I love happy coincidences!

      Originally Posted by Defacto View Post

      I advise my clients to offer gifts for "customer appreciation", not for a review. That the review card is also present is a happy coincidence.
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  • Profile picture of the author vndnbrgj
    Thanks Rus for showing that.

    Although, its not a big deal to me since I don't do any of that anyways.
    Nice to know what to tell clients to avoid.
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    • Profile picture of the author umc
      Nice to see you Rus!

      I've heard of places having tablets set up to get reviews, but never thought about it being wrong in Google's eyes. The whole system is a bit unfair, as it is typically vindictive and angry people that will seek out businesses on their own without some type of prodding. The system seems skewed toward the negative, in my opinion.
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  • Profile picture of the author sandalwood
    Originally Posted by Rus Sells View Post

    Are you providing review and reputation management? You should be aware of the possible implications of using certain systems can expose you and your clients too.

    Google has updated their perspective in regards to online reviews on the Google + Local platform.

    https://productforums.google.com/for...ue/HjNuoboBL1A


    P.S: I'd like to say I am back and the behest of many personal friends and my own users despite what I said on my last post from a couple of months ago or so.

    P.S.S. Please keep replies germane to the topic of this thread. No need to drudge up old stuff.
    Rus,

    Glad you've returned. Hope you had a pleasant vacation . The link told us what we should know in the first place. Unfortunately not everyone played nice so the big G is taking action. Wasn't it only a matter of time anyway?

    Tom
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  • Profile picture of the author Sebastian Wilde
    Originally Posted by Rus Sells View Post

    Are you providing review and reputation management? You should be aware of the possible implications of using certain systems can expose you and your clients too.

    Google has updated their perspective in regards to online reviews on the Google + Local platform.

    https://productforums.google.com/for...ue/HjNuoboBL1A


    P.S: I'd like to say I am back and the behest of many personal friends and my own users despite what I said on my last post from a couple of months ago or so.

    P.S.S. Please keep replies germane to the topic of this thread. No need to drudge up old stuff.
    Don't know much about reputation management or review services but good to see you back Russ.

    Sebastian.
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  • Welcome back, Rus. Learning a lot here. What is your take on this article where the author says:

    10.
    If you think it somehow looks “unprofessional” to ask customers/clients for reviews, be prepared to get stomped by your local competitors. If you’re a local-search pro, try to determine beforehand whether you might be working with someone who feels that way.

    13. It’s possible to have #1 local rankings and not get a single new customer as a result if you’re not serious about asking your customers for Google reviews.

    50 Local SEO Lessons from 50 Clients | LocalVisibilitySystem.com
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    Marketing is not a battle of products. It is a battle of perceptions.
    - Jack Trout
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    • Profile picture of the author Rus Sells
      10. I guess some seo firms might feel that way so of course I wouldn't hire them.

      13. It's possible yes, but I have #1 rankings with no reviews and the client has gotten new customers anyways.

      Originally Posted by Joe Ditzel View Post

      Welcome back, Rus. Learning a lot here. What is your take on this article where the author says:

      10.
      If you think it somehow looks "unprofessional" to ask customers/clients for reviews, be prepared to get stomped by your local competitors. If you're a local-search pro, try to determine beforehand whether you might be working with someone who feels that way.

      13. It's possible to have #1 local rankings and not get a single new customer as a result if you're not serious about asking your customers for Google reviews.

      50 Local SEO Lessons from 50 Clients | LocalVisibilitySystem.com
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    • Profile picture of the author 63lincoln
      Originally Posted by Joe Ditzel View Post

      Welcome back, Rus. Learning a lot here. What is your take on this article where the author says:

      10.
      If you think it somehow looks "unprofessional" to ask customers/clients for reviews, be prepared to get stomped by your local competitors. If you're a local-search pro, try to determine beforehand whether you might be working with someone who feels that way.

      13. It's possible to have #1 local rankings and not get a single new customer as a result if you're not serious about asking your customers for Google reviews.

      50 Local SEO Lessons from 50 Clients | LocalVisibilitySystem.com
      Joe, can you share that article? I'm helping local clients with rep. That is when I'm not busy trying to become a reformed "bad golfer".
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  • Profile picture of the author Bruce NewMedia
    I saw this the other day. Thanks for referencing it, Russ.

    I just have to ask, is there no limit to the intrusiveness Google is allowed? While there are certainly cases of 'review abuse', etc. who says they can tell some diner in Chicago it can't give a slice of pie to a customer, to encourage a review?

    ...Yet, Google will do very little to expose the very blatant, vicious, false reviews planted by competitors on other businesses.
    _____
    Bruce
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    • Profile picture of the author Rus Sells
      The level of arrogance is amazing right?

      Originally Posted by Bruce NewMedia View Post

      I saw this the other day. Thanks for referencing it, Russ.

      I just have to ask, is there no limit to the intrusiveness Google is allowed? While there are certainly cases of 'review abuse', etc. who says they can tell some diner in Chicago it can't give a slice of pie to a customer, to encourage a review?

      ...Yet, Google will do very little to expose the very blatant, vicious, false reviews planted by competitors on other businesses.
      _____
      Bruce
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    • Profile picture of the author Sys4
      Originally Posted by Bruce NewMedia View Post

      I saw this the other day. Thanks for referencing it, Russ.

      I just have to ask, is there no limit to the intrusiveness Google is allowed? While there are certainly cases of 'review abuse', etc. who says they can tell some diner in Chicago it can't give a slice of pie to a customer, to encourage a review?

      ...Yet, Google will do very little to expose the very blatant, vicious, false reviews planted by competitors on other businesses.
      _____
      Bruce
      Google has a legal responsibility to act to prevent incentivized or fraudulent endorsements. If they don't follow the laws of the jurisdictions they operate in, they can be subject to civil and criminal penalties. See: Federal Trade Commission
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  • Profile picture of the author Jay Rhome
    It should be OK to give an incentive to get a review, but of course not one only for a GOOD review. And how is Google gonna find out what a business does in-house? Snitching by competitors? Really???
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    • Profile picture of the author Sys4
      Originally Posted by Jay Rhome View Post

      It should be OK to give an incentive to get a review
      Until the FTC takes enforcement action against the company/business breaking the law. To be fair, your statement isn't completely incorrect, just incomplete. As long as they follow the disclosure requirements of the applicable laws, they'd be okay.

      FTC enforcement actions are public. There have been several companies that have received six figure fines for providing incentives for reviews or fake reviews. Google some...
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  • Profile picture of the author Tyler S
    Thanks for the share. Google just wants legitimate reviews. Is that too much to ask for?
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  • Profile picture of the author imlogic
    lol at google being able to enforce this
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  • Profile picture of the author Aaron Doud
    Funny you posted this. I got a cold email from this company this morning.

    Pricing and Packages • Ratings King

    Check out the 680 review a month package. No way that won't scream fake lol
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    • Profile picture of the author DABK
      You didn't turbo that package, that's the problem. For an additional 2k, they give you faster results.

      And, to make sure nobody catches on, they split the reviews evenly between sites. Allow me to quote in full:

      "Each package grants you a number of reviews on each of your listings. Say you have your company listed on 10 sites, with the basic 99$ you get 50 reviews posted, 5 on each site. With the Boosted 99$ we post on 5 of the most important listings 10 reviews on each. That will increase your general rating and number of reviews on the sites you consider a priority. Simple, right?"

      Now, what's not simple and smarter than Google in all that?

      PS These people are novices. I got a couple of offers last week to get me 2k reviews within the month for a measly $0.5/review. Not only that, but they were going to use ip addresses from all over the world. My little local company was going to be big all the way from Kamchatka to Bogota, Kuala Lampur, Oslo, and Parma!

      Now, that's value!

      Originally Posted by Aaron Doud View Post

      Funny you posted this. I got a cold email from this company this morning.

      Pricing and Packages • Ratings King

      Check out the 680 review a month package. No way that won't scream fake lol
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      • Profile picture of the author Rus Sells
        Truth be known they are breaking the law in the US and EU.

        Originally Posted by DABK View Post

        You didn't turbo that package, that's the problem. For an additional 2k, they give you faster results.

        And, to make sure nobody catches on, they split the reviews evenly between sites. Allow me to quote in full:

        "Each package grants you a number of reviews on each of your listings. Say you have your company listed on 10 sites, with the basic 99$ you get 50 reviews posted, 5 on each site. With the Boosted 99$ we post on 5 of the most important listings 10 reviews on each. That will increase your general rating and number of reviews on the sites you consider a priority. Simple, right?"

        Now, what's not simple and smarter than Google in all that?

        PS These people are novices. I got a couple of offers last week to get me 2k reviews within the month for a measly $0.5/review. Not only that, but they were going to use ip addresses from all over the world. My little local company was going to be big all the way from Kamchatka to Bogota, Kuala Lampur, Oslo, and Parma!

        Now, that's value!
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        • Profile picture of the author DABK
          I talked last week to a local business guy who was considering getting fake reviews. Because he got a bad one that he thinks is fake (former partner getting back at him).

          Never crossed his mind that Google may be able to tell... That his customers may be able to tell. Or what happens to his reputation if it ever comes up.

          And yes, the package is breaking laws...

          I guess my sarcastic amazement doesn't translate in writing, huh?



          Originally Posted by Rus Sells View Post

          Truth be known they are breaking the law in the US and EU.
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          • Profile picture of the author Rus Sells
            Yeah, I missed your sarcasm! haha

            Originally Posted by DABK View Post

            I talked last week to a local business guy who was considering getting fake reviews. Because he got a bad one that he thinks is fake (former partner getting back at him).

            Never crossed his mind that Google may be able to tell... That his customers may be able to tell. Or what happens to his reputation if it ever comes up.

            And yes, the package is breaking laws...

            I guess my sarcastic amazement doesn't translate in writing, huh?
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  • Profile picture of the author philboy uk
    Just noticed a local estate agent is trying to boost it's online credibility.
    1 review in 2 years, and then 5 reviews.... on the same day ?, from 5 people with
    empty profiles

    https://plus.google.com/105012021024...30/about?hl=en

    I am not sure those 5 reviews are enhancing the estate agents reputation..
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    • Profile picture of the author Rus Sells
      Yeah its possible those are paid for fake reviews.

      Originally Posted by philboy uk View Post

      Just noticed a local estate agent is trying to boost it's online credibility.
      1 review in 2 years, and then 5 reviews.... on the same day ?, from 5 people with
      empty profiles

      https://plus.google.com/105012021024...30/about?hl=en

      I am not sure those 5 reviews are enhancing the estate agents reputation..
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    • Profile picture of the author DABK
      I LOVE A Google User. She's easy going and always tells the truth. I wish all my tenants were like her.

      Originally Posted by philboy uk View Post

      Just noticed a local estate agent is trying to boost it's online credibility.
      1 review in 2 years, and then 5 reviews.... on the same day ?, from 5 people with
      empty profiles

      https://plus.google.com/105012021024...30/about?hl=en

      I am not sure those 5 reviews are enhancing the estate agents reputation..
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  • Profile picture of the author CudaFish
    So let me ask you guys for an idea here. If we can't do this..

    "Remember, we don’t allow you to give customers free gifts or discounts for leaving reviews."

    What would YOU do to promote reviews?
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    • Profile picture of the author DABK
      Everyone who places a review this month gets entered into a drawing. The 1st place wins...
      the 2nd place wins ...less
      the 3rd place wins... even less.

      Originally Posted by CudaFish View Post

      So let me ask you guys for an idea here. If we can't do this..

      "Remember, we don't allow you to give customers free gifts or discounts for leaving reviews."

      What would YOU do to promote reviews?
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      • Profile picture of the author CudaFish
        Originally Posted by DABK View Post

        Everyone who places a review this month gets entered into a drawing. The 1st place wins...
        the 2nd place wins ...less
        the 3rd place wins... even less.
        But that's considered an incentive, which google poo poos apparently. Weird, right?

        - Mark Cuda
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        cudafish.com | marketing | design | work / life balance
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  • Profile picture of the author dee4d
    These are good measures to curb those who spam reviews. Thanks for this update.
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  • Profile picture of the author qu4rk
    I've ran into a few clients that need reputation management for their google reviews. Can someone point me in the right direction for what exactly I would do for them?

    For example, there is an attorney with 2 negative reviews only. They asked me could I help them with it, I told them I would get back to them.

    If you can't:

    1) Do fake reviews (I wouldn't be interested in that anyway).
    2) Put systems in place to encourage customers to review (i.e. setup a tablet in-house, convert paper reviews).

    Then what exactly are folks doing in this situation.

    Thanks
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  • Profile picture of the author CudaFish
    So it's illegal to incentivize a review, even if "positive review" isn't the connotation. How would you get clients to leave reviews then?

    Maybe have them on a list and promote your google local page to the list, mentioning things like "And hey, don't forget to let us know what you thought about xyz!"

    Any thoughts here?

    - Mark Cuda
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    cudafish.com | marketing | design | work / life balance
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    • Profile picture of the author Sys4
      Originally Posted by CudaFish View Post

      So it's illegal to incentivize a review, even if "positive review" isn't the connotation. How would you get clients to leave reviews then?

      Maybe have them on a list and promote your google local page to the list, mentioning things like "And hey, don't forget to let us know what you thought about xyz!"

      Any thoughts here?

      - Mark Cuda
      No. It's not illegal to incentivize reviews/endorsements. It's illegal to do so without disclosing that the review (or ad as interpreted by the FTC) has been incentivized. I believe the law that they're using to go after violators predates the consumer Internet - circa the 1980's. It was enacted to protect consumers from fraudulent celebrity endorsements - where some A-list celebrity would say that they LOVED their new Yugo... but their Yugo only had two miles on the odometer and was in the process of being gifted to his housekeeper. Or a super model would endorse a teeth whitening product when in fact her pearly whites weren't real.

      Having said that, I doubt the FTC is ever going to get around to investigating the reviews for Bob's BBQ Burger Heaven for compliance issues. But even though I'm not paid to give legal advice, I still try to encourage legal behavior on the part of my clients.
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      • Profile picture of the author SirThomas
        Originally Posted by Sys4 View Post

        No. It's not illegal to incentivize reviews/endorsements. It's illegal to do so without disclosing that the review (or ad as interpreted by the FTC) has been incentivized.
        In other words, if your client leaves a review on Google only because you gave him/her a piece of cheesecake, it should be disclosed in their review. I'd love to see reviews like that... "hey, I got my free piece of cheesecake, so I feel obligated to say something about this outfit..."
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        • Profile picture of the author Andy Bo
          Hi guys,

          How does it work if you're providing wi-fi within your business(eg cafe)? Would a review coming from somebody's personal Ipad using the cafe's wi-fi show up as coming from the businesses IP address and therefore potentially be flagged as fake or does it not work like that?

          Regards,

          Andy
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          • Profile picture of the author Rus Sells
            Yes it would, I don't recommend that the business makes their wifi available for leaving reviews.

            Originally Posted by Andy Bo View Post

            Hi guys,

            How does it work if you're providing wi-fi within your business(eg cafe)? Would a review coming from somebody's personal Ipad using the cafe's wi-fi show up as coming from the businesses IP address and therefore potentially be flagged as fake or does it not work like that?

            Regards,

            Andy
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  • Profile picture of the author piney94
    I'd like to 2nd what Cudafish asked - how do others promote/offer Review Mgmt?

    For restaurants - table tent cards to Yelp/Urbanspoon? QR codes at the checkout desk?

    I know this is a 101 RM question, but I thought I'd ask while the door was open.

    Thanks
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    • Profile picture of the author CudaFish
      Originally Posted by piney94 View Post

      I'd like to 2nd what Cudafish asked - how do others promote/offer Review Mgmt?

      For restaurants - table tent cards to Yelp/Urbanspoon? QR codes at the checkout desk?

      I know this is a 101 RM question, but I thought I'd ask while the door was open.

      Thanks
      Well I do these things with clients right now, but I'm reading that this isn't legal apparently. I'm wondering what other methods may be. Some are saying, as google wrote, that anything incentivizing or promoting reviews is illegal, but others say no biggie on certain aspects.

      piney, seems like it's just a gray area, no?
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      cudafish.com | marketing | design | work / life balance
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      • Profile picture of the author Sys4
        Originally Posted by CudaFish View Post

        Well I do these things with clients right now, but I'm reading that this isn't legal apparently. I'm wondering what other methods may be. Some are saying, as google wrote, that anything incentivizing or promoting reviews is illegal, but others say no biggie on certain aspects.

        piney, seems like it's just a gray area, no?
        It's illegal if the incentive is not properly disclosed. I'm not saying this... I'm parroting this from what anyone can read on Federal Trade Commission

        No one should ever take legal advice from ANYONE on an Internet forum.

        My personal belief, not legal interpretation, is that you can violate the law as far as Google will allow, and suffer no negative repercussions. That is to say, your clients will suffer Google penalties far before the FTC has the time to mess with your clients - unless your client has deep pockets and can help the FTC meet their budgeted line item for fines collected.
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        • Profile picture of the author CudaFish
          Originally Posted by Sys4 View Post

          It's illegal if the incentive is not properly disclosed. I'm not saying this... I'm parroting this from what anyone can read on Federal Trade Commission

          No one should ever take legal advice from ANYONE on an Internet forum.

          My personal belief, not legal interpretation, is that you can violate the law as far as Google will allow, and suffer no negative repercussions. That is to say, your clients will suffer Google penalties far before the FTC has the time to mess with your clients - unless your client has deep pockets and can help the FTC meet their budgeted line item for fines collected.
          Yeah, I can see your point. Throws a monkey wrench into the reputation management business, however, it can do a lot of good companies that offer proper management of a business' reputation in terms of being able to sell the prospect on why THEY are the business to work with.

          "Look Mr. Prospect, check out google's recent stance on reputation management. You'd say it's important for your business not only to have a good reputation, but have a stong, proper, and LEGAL strategy for acheiving that, wouldn't you? I mean, am I right, or am I right?"

          ^ That line'll kill them.

          - Mark Cuda
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          cudafish.com | marketing | design | work / life balance
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          • Profile picture of the author ronr
            I really don't see what the big deal is about this. I'm no fan of Google but most of what they are saying I wouldn't encourage anyone to do because it's not ethical.

            I don't see anything wrong in giving a reward for reviews (as long as it's not just for postive reviews) or having a tablet at the location to make it easy ...but Google does and it's their game.

            But IMHO it's still not a big deal, when I used to do offline for clients the biggest thing we did to get reveiws is just make it part of their daily operating practice to nicely ask and encourage clients/patients they would appreciate a review and make it easy for them by giving them links, etc.

            We got all the reviews they needed and because I only worked with good businesses 98% were positive. That and common sense that if a client/customer was obviousely not happy they weren't reminded

            Ron
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            • Profile picture of the author Colm Whelan
              Originally Posted by ronr View Post

              the biggest thing we did to get reveiws is just make it part of their daily operating practice to nicely ask and encourage clients/patients they would appreciate a review and make it easy for them by giving them links, etc.
              This here is the key, I think. You can create the (admittedly transient) desire in a client to submit a review by offering great service and then just ASKING when they're at their happiest. One thing we've recently started doing is asking for our customers email so that we can send them the links to do reviews! We send the links to them along with a 5% discount voucher. The email states - "This voucher is yours to keep and use or give to a friend. A review is not required." in small print at the bottom of the mail. We get about 1 in 12 actually leaving a review so far and about 1 in 10 using the voucher - but it's early days.
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  • Profile picture of the author piney94
    What's wrong with an on-site QR scan that takes customers to Yelp or Urbanspoon to leave a review w/o incentives?
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  • Profile picture of the author DeeMiller999
    Questions to anyone doing Reputation Management:

    1. Have you ever been sued by your client in the course of providing
    Reputation Management to a client?

    2. Do you have a contract for the client to sign... so
    that they will NOT sue you?

    Thank you kindly
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    • Profile picture of the author Andy Bo
      Originally Posted by DeeMiller999 View Post

      Questions to anyone doing Reputation Management:

      1. Have you ever been sued by your client in the course of providing
      Reputation Management to a client?

      2. Do you have a contract for the client to sign... so
      that they will NOT sue you?

      Thank you kindly
      Hi Dee.
      Sued for what?
      I'm just starting Rep Management and so it would be handy information.
      Thanks and good luck!

      Andy
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    • Profile picture of the author DABK
      They can sue you even if you have a contract. They might not win, but they can sure as hell sue you.

      It's a good idea to carry EO insurance. It's a great idea to communicate well, select clients well, have a nice agreement that spells exactly what you will do.

      But agreements don't stop all people from suing. A friendly relationship and a clear agreement go a long way.

      Originally Posted by DeeMiller999 View Post

      Questions to anyone doing Reputation Management:

      1. Have you ever been sued by your client in the course of providing
      Reputation Management to a client?

      2. Do you have a contract for the client to sign... so
      that they will NOT sue you?

      Thank you kindly
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      • Profile picture of the author francisj
        So Rus, just not getting this cleared out. Do you suggest that we just don't use Google's reviews site and just move to the other ones? Plus is it actually illegal or legal for them to "demand" that with their users?

        Just clearing it out. thanks!
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        • Profile picture of the author internetmonkey
          Just my personal opinion but it is best to take reputation management for a local business from a different perspective. Make it as easy as possible for both satisfied AND un-satisfied customers to let the business know how they feel. Then ask their satisfied customers to leave them a review, and make it as easy as you can for them to do so.
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  • Profile picture of the author Rus Sells
    You can get sued for breaking the implied good faith contract you have whenever you do business with another business.

    Circumstances that could break the, "Good faith contract" in the reputation management space can be:

    Creating sock puppet accounts on 3rd party review sites in order to post reviews from customers on behalf of your client.

    Editing or changing in any way the content of a customers review and then posting it online. This turns it into a "fake" review and since posting it online on behalf of the reviewer you are breaking the law.

    All of these actions violate the implied "good faith contract" you have with your clients and can expose them and you to legal action.

    Don't think you can write it in the contract, if any provision you put in a contract is in opposition to the implied good faith contract you are legally exposed anyways.
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  • Profile picture of the author Corky50
    Have to grin when I think of this thread and the WSOs offered elsewhere on this site.
    Much to your credits, I don't see many overlapping names here.

    LOL
    Corky
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    • Profile picture of the author Rus Sells
      Thanks Corky!

      What do you mean by overlapping names?

      Originally Posted by Corky50 View Post

      Have to grin when I think of this thread and the WSOs offered elsewhere on this site.
      Much to your credits, I don't see many overlapping names here.

      LOL
      Corky
      {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[7816403].message }}

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