As of April 3, 2017, Google retired their long standing Trusted Store program and and introduced Google Customer Reviews. If you're an eCommerce business, you need to consider this change essential to you. Available through Google Merchant Center, the programs collects ratings and feedback from real customers contributing to a seller's rating across review sources. Reviews have long been a part of Search results, so what's the difference you may wonder.
A "Google Review" can be left by anyone whether they have actually used that business or not. A "Customer Review" can only be made after that customer has completed a purchase. Customers are given an opt-in option to complete an email survey after purchase.
These results can then be displayed on Google Shopping results, AdWords text ads and your website.
Here's how to enable Google Customer Reviews
1) Sign in to your Merchant Center account (or sign up if you do not have an account).
2) Select "Merchant Center programs" from the dropdown in the upper right-hand corner.
3) Click "Get Started" in the Google Customer Reviews card and accept the Program Agreement.
4) Add the survey opt-in code to your website.
5) [Optional] Add the badge code to your site wherever you want. This will make the badge appear on your site, allowing you to display your seller rating and show customers that you're integrated with Google Customer Reviews
Though Google discourages fake reviews, on normal Google Reviews it can be hard to tell the difference between a valid customer review and a fake review - either positive or negative. The Customer Review process is aimed to add some authenticity to this process
When a customer receives the email asking them to make a review, this is what they see (store name blacked out)
So then, what's the difference between the Trusted Stores program and Customer Reviews? Under the Trusted Stores program, merchants had to provide Google with their Shipment and Cancellation feeds. To be considered a Trusted Store, the minimum requirements were to:
- Have an average online order volume for 200 orders;
- Not sell restricted products;
- Provide customer support within one business day;
- Provide accurate estimated ship dates;
- Not host cart pages on separate domains
- Use HTTPS
These were metrics Google belived benefited the end consumer.
Now, none of that matters. Your rating is determined wholly by your consumer - actual feedback from actual customers.
Why wouldn't I use it?
- Your customer service would not meet at least 3.5 stars
- You use a third party selling platform that does not integrate with Customer Reviews
- You use a different domain to direct customers to complete their transactions eg Shopify
So, a move towards a more honest customer focused user experience? Or an unmanageable disaster waiting to happen? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
The list of Countries that Customer Reviews is available in can be found here
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