Is your B2B company offering incentives to customers for online reviews? If so, you could be doing more harm than good. The most frequently used online review sites, such as Google+ and Yelp, have policies that discourage businesses from offering incentives for reviews. You might be wondering if these policies actually have teeth. As many businesses have found out the hard way, they do.
Review sites have complex algorithms that flag and often remove suspect reviews. A review may become suspect if a reviewer creates a profile only to write a review for your business. If all of the reviews about your company are from one-time reviewers, the review sites will likely flag the reviews as non-credible. Too many fake online reviews may result in the review site taking severe action, such as placing a warning on your profile that flags your reviews as unreliable. Having this type of warning on your profile is a bad PR move on all levels.
Review sites are also discouraging businesses from having computers or tablets on-site to encourage customers to provide reviews. According to Google+, “We also discourage specialized review stations or kiosks set up at your place of business for the sole purpose of soliciting reviews.” How would they know, you might ask? Incoming IP addresses are tracked and companies that have too many reviews coming from the same site get flagged. Yelp goes so far as to tell businesses not to ask for reviews at all.
The FTC has also gotten in on the game by requiring companies to disclose incentives and payments for endorsements and testimonials. So what’s the bottom line? Reviews about your company need to be genuine. There is no way to beat the system by paying for reviews or pushing customers to write glowing reviews for your company. The best way to get good online reviews is to provide excellent customer services and products.
While online reviews might seem more like a B2C concern at the moment, B2B companies need to pay attention. Online reviews will soon become mainstream for B2B companies as well, and it is better to get in the game early to build you online reputation now, rather than wait until late in the game when you have to play catch up to your competitors.
So instead of offering incentives to customers for writing reviews, invest those resources in providing outstanding service to your customers and the genuine reviews will follow!