Apple have had a review system on their Apple Map program for a while now in the UK. But do businesses understand how it works and how to get the best out of it? As a business owner, this is something you absolutely need to be aware of. Just like Google Maps, customers will be able to leave reviews of your business, and so it will have an effect on the way customers online perceive you.
Why worry about Apple Maps instead of just Google Maps? On iPhones and iPads, Apple is the default mapping app, not Google. This is important because the majority of users of iOS devices actually use Apple Maps, not Google Maps.
When you are surfing the web and carry out for a search for a local business on an iPhone or iPad, the top result is typically from Apple. When you use Siri to find a local business, the results come from Apple Maps. Then there is the Apple Maps app itself which is used more often on iOS devices than Google Maps.
So hopefully you can now see why Apple reviews are so important, especially as it works somewhat differently to other map review systems online. Here’s everything you need to know.
HOW APPLE MAPS REVIEWS WORK
Firstly, you’ll need to understand how the reviews on Apple Maps work, and how customers can use them. When browsing Apple Maps, a customer will now be able to leave reviews on any business that’s listed on the service. They’ll get a call to action, asking them to give the business a thumbs up or thumbs down. If the customer decides to do this, they’ll then be taken to a second screen, where they can give a thumbs up or thumbs down to several different attributes of the business as a whole. They also have the option of adding a photo.
As such, this fulfils the same role as Google Reviews. Customers will be able to get an idea of what a business is like, by seeing what other customers have had to say about it. They’ll be important to you, as those reviews will impact how potential leads see your business. Just like Google Reviews, you’ll want to track these and see what people are saying.
The reviews are unique as there’s no option to leave a written comment about the business. All interaction will be simply rating the business with that thumbs up, thumbs down approach.
WHY THIS SETUP FOR APPLE MAPS REVIEWS?
This may seem like a strange setup for reviews, to business owners that are used to Google Reviews. As there’s no option to create a written account, how can you really get to know what a customer really thinks about your business?
It’s true that you can’t get any personal insights, but that thumbs up, thumbs down system will actually give you a lot more than you’d think. It works in a similar way to Netflix. When the users of this service utilise the review system here, you’ll get a very quick insight into whether a TV show or movie is worth watching.
It’s the same way on Apple Maps. Those ratings actually tell you a lot about a business, so customers can make an informed decision about whether they want to buy from them. For example, restaurants will have attributes for atmosphere, food, and service. A small scale cafe may get thumbs up for food and service, but they won’t have a good atmosphere. An upmarket restaurant may get thumbs up across the board, as they can offer a good experience in all three attributes.
With this, those customers will actually get a more nuanced look at what makes a business good, in a way that the five star reviews can’t do. If you compared those two restaurants together, the cafe will look worse as it won’t get as many stars as compared to the upmarket restaurant. That isn’t an accurate representation though, as the diner can offer a certain experience to customers that they may not want from the upscale establishment.
The amount of detail you can get from these ratings is actually surprisingly complex. Right now, there are over 56 possible ratings combinations, so a customer will get an in depth look at any business. The combinations available will depend on the type of business that’s being reviewed. Here are a few examples of how these could work:
Car dealer: This will only get the overall rating, with no additional attributes.
Retail store: Along with the overall rating, there’s options to rate the store on products and customer service.
Tyre service: Here, you’ll be asked to rate the service on their customer service and services offered.
Restaurant: These can vary, but typically you’ll be asked to rate the restaurant on their food and drink, customer service, and atmosphere.
There are a lot of businesses that will only allow you to leave an overall rating. For example, healthcare centres or doctors surgeries will only allow an overall thumbs up or thumbs down. There are even more places where you can’t leave a review whatsoever. These include banks, academic institutions, professional services, and surprisingly, hotels. It’s not clear why this, but it could be that there’s a prior contractual obligation in place, or because Apple has enough third party data on hotels.
DOES THE APPLE MAPS REVIEW SYSTEM WORK?
Now you have an understanding of how the system works, will it actually be beneficial to you? There is a lot to recommend it, over the current Google Reviews system that’s in place. Some of this we’ve covered above already. As it offers a lot of attributes, a customer can get a good overview of a business very quickly. They won’t need to wade through written reviews to find out whether the service can offer what they need.
As there are different attributes, that tells the customer what they need to know about the service at a glance, too. For example, say they’re looking for a mechanic service. They want to keep the price low, so if the pricing is marked as a thumbs down, they’ll know to look elsewhere.
Finally, they’re very quick and easy to do. Many customers may put off writing a review on Google, as they feel it will take too long to do so. With Apple Maps reviews, they can be done in as little as 15 seconds. If the customer wants to upload a photo, then it can be done in under a minute. This encourages more people to review a service, so others get a more accurate view of the business.
However, there are some weaknesses to the ratings system that you should be aware of. As there’s the ability to add ratings for attributes, but no option to leave a review, then a ‘review’ here isn’t really a review or a rating. That makes it difficult for businesses to glean information from them.
Many businesses will be happy there’s no review option, as the vast majority of reviews won’t be that useful. However, sometimes you do need that context. If you get a negative review, you’re not going to know why. If a customer leaves a thumb down for customer service, for example, you don’t know if that’s because a staff member was rude, or because your customer service system as a whole has problems.
Another issue is that as there’s no reviews, you don’t have the option to respond to them. That’s something that you should be doing on Google, as when you get a bad review you can reply looking to put the issue right. That helps improve the review as customers can see you care about the customer experience. If you get a thumbs down here, right now you can’t respond to find out why.
UNDERSTANDING THE APPLE MAP’S USER CONTENT GUIDELINES
One of the benefits of the Apple Maps review system over Google is the way they handle user content. They have clear guidelines in place, to protect both the reviewer and the business. This is something that many businesses have struggled with with Google, as they often make it difficult to handle libelous or contentious reviews.
Each country has slightly different guidelines when it comes to reviews, and you can check out the Apple UK guidelines online. Apple leave the copyright of the reviews with the reviewer, while they have the right to use the review in any way they see fit.
When it comes to libelous content, it would be rather difficult for a reviewer to create it on Apple Maps. As they can only leave a thumbs up or thumbs down, they can’t leave comments that are defamatory or harmful to you. Apple does have very clear guidelines on this, while Google doesn’t. Even so, it’s difficult to anyone to do this.
Apple also are very clear about what a reviewer can and can’t leave in a review and photos. When leaving a submission, they will be told it can’t include any of the following:
- Profanity or offensive hand gestures
- Nudity exposing private areas
- Child exploitation materials
- Sexual activity or content
- Drugs or drug paraphernalia
- Poor lighting, that makes the subject not visible
- Copyright notices
- Date or time stamps
- Emojis or selfies
- Aspect ratio greater than 2.2:1
- Formats other than JPEG, PNG, or HEIC
- Resolution of less than 960×1280 or greater than 4864×4864
- Edited from raw image
- Stock photos
- Redundant photos
As this is such an extensive list, you can be sure that you’ll get a review that’s fair to your business.
WHERE CAN YOU FIND APPLE MAPS REVIEWS?
Right now, the ability to leave reviews on Apple Maps is available in over 60 countries, this includes the UK, US, Australia, Canada, and more.
In the UK, right now the review left by a customer is only shown to them. It won’t be available to other users browsing Maps. Additionally, the call to action for leaving a review is available on mobile, but not on desktops. It’s clear that Apple are in the process of rolling these reviews out, as some users are not yet able to access them. It’s not yet clear how soon the system will be rolled out in its entirety.
HAVE APPLE ‘SOLVED’ REVIEWS?
There’s no denying that while online reviews offer a lot of value to both customers and businesses alike, they do still have their problems. It’s very easy for the system to be abused, and companies like Google are slow to attempt to put these issues right.
Apple have made an attempt to change up the way reviews are left, and the system they have come up with does remove a lot of problems. As there’s no ability to leave written reviews, there’s no way that a user can write a problematic review that affects your image online.
Also, Apple will have data on every single user who uses their review feature. They have so much data, including their location, travel patterns and even their credit card. Because of this, it’s much more difficult for fraudulent reviews to be left on the service. Only one review can be left at a location per iPhone, so it’s much harder for spammers to flood it with fake reviews.
On the customer’s end, they see a lot of benefits too. With the attributes, they can see a good overview of any business, and what they have to offer them. It gives them all this information quickly too, so they don’t have to work out whether a business is actually good or not by reading through reviews.
However, the system isn’t perfect, as none are. As a business, you won’t be able to reply to any negative reviews, in order to help put it right. Also, because there’s no written reviews, there’s no way to understand why that thumbs down has been left.
There’s a lot of unknowns right now, too. We don’t know how Apple will handle moderating reviews, and how quick they will be at taking fake and libelous reviews down. They have shown a more robust approach to guidelines though, which is a step in the right direction.
Apple Maps Reviews are very much a new take on reviews, and it gives customers a new way to evaluate any business that they see online. It will be another way for customers to find you, so it’s something that you’ll want to keep a close eye on.
Apple Maps thumbs up / thumbs down rating, which currently exists alongside existing partnerships like Yell, Yelp, Tripadvisor, and Foursquare. For now its also vitally important you manage your reputation on those platforms until the time that Apples own review system completely takes over.