Online ratings and reviews are becoming an increasingly important factor in purchase/hiring decisions. According to Dimensional Research, 90% of those who read reviews are influenced by positive online reviews, and 86% are influenced by negative online reviews. In addition, according to BrightLocal, 79% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.

Given the key role played by ratings and reviews in the decision of small businesses to hire accountants, authenticity of reviews is key to the integrity of our Find-a-ProAdvisor® profiles. Our ratings and reviews platform uses proprietary technology to distinguish authentic reviews from fraudulent ones. Given the nature of the “Authenticity” algorithm, some rare instances of “false positives” (Genuine/authentic reviews flagged as fraudulent) are unavoidable. False positives result due to the way reviews are solicited or submitted. Here are some Dos and Don’ts that can help you avoid the “Authenticity” pitfall:

DOs: what are the best ways to solicit reviews?

1. Email is the best way to request reviews from your clients: In your email, include a link to your profile, and instructions on successfully submitting the review (feel free to use the “Review solicitation email template” provided at the end of this article). Specifically, ask the client to post the review from their personal or work computer, and from their work or home network. If you do solicit a review during an in-person meeting, ask them to wait until they are in their office or home before submitting the review.

2. Let the client write the review in his or her own words: Do not influence the language or tone of the review in any way.

DON’Ts: How not to solicit/submit reviews.

1. Do not accept “Kiosk” review submissions: Some accountants/trainers encourage their clients to write a review on a shared computer in the accountant/trainer’s office. Reviews received via shared computers/kiosks are not supported, and our ratings and reviews platform will reject such reviews. Also, do not share your computer, or any other computer in your office, with your clients to write a review.

If you request reviews during a training session for multiple clients, ask them to wait until they are outside the training center before submitting the review (preferably after they are back home or in their office).

2. Do not submit reviews provided by clients “offline” (via email or snail mail): Please do not submit, or have a colleague/friend submit, reviews that a client sends to you via email/physical mail. Let the client write the review on his or her own. A key aspect of authenticity is ensuring the person who claims to be submitting the review physically enters the review into our system.

3. Do not repurpose reviews from a different platform: Some professionals ‘copy+paste’ reviews from other platforms, such as Yelp or Google, onto their ProAdvisor profiles. As a result, those submitted reviews are not supported. The best way to reuse such reviews is by asking your client to resubmit the same review on your ProAdvisor profile.

4. Do not “author your own review” (or edit the language in a client’s review): Sometimes, clients ask the accountant to “compose a review,” which the client can then post. These reviews are not supported. Truly authentic reviews are those written in the client’s own language, and submitted confidentially by the client.

We hope you appreciate our efforts to create a great reputation platform that works increasingly harder to help grow your business! Should you have any questions about this policy or the ProAdvisor program in general, please reach out to us.

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