On April 12th, 2018 Google updated their terms of service (TOS) to include the following language.
“Don’t discourage or prohibit negative reviews or selectively solicit positive reviews from customers.”
This update to their TOS is rooted to the practicing of “review gating”, where your review process keeps unhappy customers from writing online reviews on Google while allowing happy customers access. Review generation services have used many ways to gate consumers including thumbs up or down, 5 star ratings and Net Promoter Score.
Google is simply after all customers having the same experience when being asking for an online review. (Note that Trip Advisor also has this same item in their TOS)
Is GetFiveStars in compliance with this “gating” guideline from Google?
Yes. All three of our modes (Ultimate Mode, Review Mode and Direct Mode) are in compliance. While our Ultimate and Review Modes capture Net Promoter Score in the first step with the consumer, they are not “gated” from the review links. Consumers are presented with the online review links no matter how they rate the Net Promoter Score question, but we do use NPS to personalize the process to the consumers happy or unhappy indication.
Our team directly met with the Google My Business team and received approval for our Request Modes according to Google’s guidelines.
Below is the new “Negative Landing Page” that meets Google’s TOS and still offers the opportunity for unhappy customers to talk directly to you. The Positive Landing Page is unaffected by this TOS update. Our sample image is annotated with descriptions of each updated item below for the Negative flow.
Specific details for the negative landing page and flow
Google’s update calls for all customers to have the same experience, that means the same steps or features in the unhappy customer process as noted above. Our default setting is customers rating you a 0-6 would get the Negative flow, but you can change this setting as you wish.
1. Your Negative Landing Page will have personalized content. Our stock content has an apology and request to obtain more direct feedback. This personalization of content is OK with Google, and is not “gating”.
2. A “Direct Feedback” button for unhappy customers will appear above the Online Review Sites. When a customer clicks this button they will be taken to an additional open text field to capture private feedback from them to you. Once they submit that form, the process is over for them.
3. Online Review sites appear on the Negative Landing Page, just the same as the Positive Landing Page. This is the Google TOS requirement.
Additional request mode options
In addition to the items we have called out above, please note the following feature additions to your modes and steps in each mode.
- The ability to turn copy/paste functionality ON or OFF. If you turn it ON, it will appear in both Positive and Negative landing pages, the same for OFF (both pages). This is to ensure the “same experience” required by Google’s TOS update.
- You can turn the display of 3rd-party reviews sites OFF via the negative page if you are not requesting Google or Trip Advisor reviews. Currently these are the only two review sites with these guidelines, but we do feel more sites will follow suit in the future.