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Review Gating: What Dealerships Need to Know

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In recent months, the topic of “review gating” has been in the public eye, especially after Google updated its guidelines to prohibit businesses from filtering reviews. As Google noted explicitly, “Don’t discourage or prohibit negative reviews or selectively solicit positive reviews from customers.” Businesses found to be gating, or filtering, customer reviews, risk having all their reviews removed from their Google My Business pages[i]. We’ve received occasional requests from businesses asking for clarification on review gating – what it is and how we feel about the practice. Here are answers to the most common questions:

What exactly is review gating?

Review gating is the practice of screening customers before asking them to leave a review. For example, a business might use a platform that asks customers whether their experience was positive or negative and directs only the positive responses to a review site. If the customer says they had a bad experience, the business does not send them an option to leave a public review.

Does DealerRater permit review gating?

DealerRater prohibits review gating. We have always been firmly against the practice. Dealers enrolled on DealerRater Connections Plus have no ability to screen for only positive reviews. ReviewBuilder requests go to every closed sale or service transaction as marked in their DMS.

Is review gating the same thing as asking customers to review your business?

No. Asking customers to review your business does not constitute review gating. We encourage dealerships to solicit customer reviews. We even provide tools such as LotShot to make it easier to do so. Review gating occurs when the business filters requests to eliminate negative reviews.

Is it OK to approach my customers privately before asking them to leave a public review?

It’s OK to approach customers privately before asking them to leave a public review. In fact, approaching a customer privately gives you a chance to address a problem before the customer posts a review.  But you need to give them the option to review you publicly no matter what kind of feedback they give you, positive or negative.

What should I do if a customer leaves a negative review?

You should always respond, without exception. Responding to negative reviews demonstrates customer empathy and responsiveness, as we noted on this blog post. But do follow some best practices. For instance, although you want to provide a timely reply, don’t provide a knee-jerk, emotional response to a negative review, even if the customer’s comment upsets you.  Demonstrate empathy and resolve. Let the customer know you are sorry they had a bad experience and indicate that you are taking follow-up action. For more on responding to reviews, check out the following blog post, “Why You Should Always Respond to Customer Reviews.”

If you have further questions about review gating, don’t hesitate to contact DealerRater.

 

[i] Sterling Sky, “Review Gating Is Now Against the Google My Business Guidelines,” April 13, 2018.