To Gate Or Not To Gate

By November 30, 2019December 16th, 2019Advice,, Reputation Management

Asking patients for a review puts you in a vulnerable position. You hope they will leave positive feedback, but what if they don’t and their not so flattering review is online for everyone to read. In the past, this hesitancy to ask any and all customers to leave a review led businesses to filter candidates, a process known as “review-gating”. It was a common practice and in fact, we did this for our clients years ago, too. Not long ago, however, Google and other credible review sites put a stop to it and for good reason. Like Google, we noticed it wasn’t helping our clients, but actually hurting them in the long run.

Not Worth It

The thinking used to be that negative reviews drive prospective patients away so let’s only post the good ones. Hypothetically, that made sense. Studies show that 57% of consumers will only purchase from a business that has an average star rating of 4, so why wouldn’t you only want to show positive reviews.

Review-gating meant that practices would first ask for patient feedback, and if it was positive they would then ask them to leave a review by providing them with a link to their Google or Facebook review pages. Google, however, implemented strict guidelines against this for Google My Business listings, and instead, insisted that businesses ask everyone for a review, not just a cherry-picked group. And Google means business. If they find out you’ve been review gating, they will remove all your reviews.

Is review-gating worth it, though? Ultimately, it was found that gating didn’t really impact a businesses average-star rating. More so, when gating stopped a study found that review volume increased by almost 70%. Is this a good thing? Yes, because more reviews are better than a smaller amount of perfect ones.

Quantity Matters

Google points out that increased volume in ratings equals improved local rankings, the lifeblood of local businesses. Not to mention, most people who leave reviews have positive feedback. Yes, there may be not so great reviews mixed in here and there, but if you have many more good than bad, you can still maintain a high average rating.

What’s more, a 2019 study from Womply found that review volume was strongly correlated with small business revenue. The correlation is that consumers trust a business with lots of reviews because more reviews means high volume, and high volume translates to having a good business. In the end, even if you do get a bad review, it’s how you respond that matters. Think of it as an opportunity to show off your great customer service skills.

Perfect Reviews May Not Be So Perfect

Another study also found that businesses with perfect 5 star ratings compared with those who had lower but still good ratings, had better conversions. Why is that? People may not trust perfect ratings.  In a day and age when online reviews are everywhere, the average consumer is suspect of perfect ratings, and are more likely to think they are manipulated or fake.

These are just a few of the reasons why we encourage our dental practices not to filter or gate their reviews. The benefits far outweigh the risk of what a negative review might do for your brand. Focus on getting the reviews and responding to them in a timely matter, that’s what patients trust the most.