Under normal conditions, the answer is unanimously... YES!
When Google decided to pause all reviews on their platform, the world of online reputation management changed drastically. Especially for digital marketers whose business model included responding to and managing online reviews. (yours truly)
Although Google is the biggest game in SEO and reviews, it would be smart to remember that Facebook, Yelp, TripAdvisor, Foursquare and dozens of lesser known online reputation platforms are still allowing customers to share their reviews.
It should be noted that Yelp has been proactive in updating its review guidelines so a business is protected from false claims and negative reviews in relation to contracting COVID-19 from a business or being criticized for reducing hours.
There are other ways to solicit feedback from your clients and customers with a focus more on building goodwill and brand loyalty.
Being very sensitive to the emotional impact of the COVID-19 situation has to be a part of any request for reviews, should you decide to ask.
Here are some suggestions for keeping your brand/business relevant right now:
- If you use text messaging to contact your customers/clients, reach out with a personal message, thanking them for their business and asking if they would please provide their feedback about their experience. Share a link to your chosen review platform.
- If you have a special offer right now, ask your customers to share it with their networks. Everyone loves a bargain, right!
- If your business is an essential service, such as an electrician, plumber, bank, pediatrician, veterinarian, coffee shop, etc. and you are receiving reviews, post them on your social media channels with a big "thank you!" to the reviewer. Gratitude is more important than ever right now.
- Check for hidden reviews; yes they exist on sites you may not be aware of such as The Better Business Bureau, Yellowpages, Manta, Avvo (attorneys), Zomato, Healthgrades, ZocDoc.... and many more!
- If you are using chatbots for customer service/reviews, carefully review your automated messaging to ensure you are addressing your customers with empathy and not conducting "business as usual" since we are far from operating in a traditional business atmosphere.
You Decide (But Here's My Opinion!)
As an experienced Online Reputation Manager, my opinion is not to stop asking for reviews on Google, even though they may or may not be published when Google decides to reactivate. The caveat is to employ one or more of the above suggestions, in addition to Google.
I am disappointed Google has not been more transparent as to when they will flip the review switch, but, in the event all reviews are eventually published on their platform, they are an extremely valuable tool for any business and their brand.
Looking for more insights and guidance on social media and digital marketing at this time of anything but business as usual? Reach out to us for a complimentary call. We are here to help.