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Should you open your business up to online reviews?

View profile for Aaron Marshall
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There has been a significant upturn in the number of businesses providing their customers with the opportunity to submit online reviews towards services and products. This platform has snowballed following the success of companies such as Amazon and Trip Advisor. These reviews not only provide a two-way conversation between suppliers and consumers, but also dictate the decisions of new leads when it comes to using a product or service.

Review Moderation

With any customer-based review system, it is important to reasonably plan for what the reviews may entail. Only allowing legitimate reviews on your website is imperative, and so standards must be set, and all content must be carefully moderated.

Things to consider implementing:

  • Verification of purchase, certifying that only customers that can confirm purchase of your product or service can leave a review;
  • a system in place to identify the individual leaving the review (this can be achieved via new customers having to enter an email address on sign up);
  • a declaration that the individual does not have any personal or contractual affiliation with your company for which they are leaving the review;
  • there must be a form of confirmation that the customer is referring to their own personal experience when leaving the review; and
  • the review should be family friendly and keep to current content standards, it should not contain any profanity, or remarks of which are likely to cause offence.

Of course, a member of staff can moderate reviews, however, depending on the volume an automated service may be preferred.

Data Protection

The protection of individuals’ data should be taken care of in the same way as it would be in any other area of your website, with particular attention being paid to GDPR. For example, if reviews automatically include such things as the customer’s name, age and/or location take steps to ensure they are aware of this or provide them with the opportunity to remain anonymous.

Another issue to bear in mind is whether or not to allow individuals to include photographs alongside their review. These photographs should ideally include only the product or service of which the review is based upon, excluding any people’s faces.

Should you include all reviews or only those that are positive?

If you make the decision to sift through all your online reviews and decide to keep only those that are positive you may fall short of the Advertising Standards regulations. If this is the route that your business decides to take, then there is an obligation to make the public aware of the nature of the reviews.

The inclusion of negative reviews on your website can surprisingly have a positive effect if they are simply a negative opinion and not solely defamatory. Take these reviews as an opportunity to engage with customers and see if you can provide a solution or an apology. This can heighten the respect consumers will have for your business and aid credibility.

Contact

If you require any assistance with the issues discussed in this article, or require legal assistance with the running of your business, please contact Aaron Marshall at your earliest convenience on 0161 684 6946.

Please note that the information and opinions contained in this article are not intended to be comprehensive, nor to provide legal advice. No responsibility for its accuracy or correctness is assumed by Pearson Solicitors and Financial Advisers LLP or any of its members or employees. Professional legal advice should be obtained before taking, or refraining from taking, any action as a result of this article.