Online reviews have become the standard for modern-day businesses, such as Google My Business reviews and even Facebook reviews.
Many businesses will enjoy positive feedback and reviews from happy customers, and will be able to leverage these in future marketing materials. Almost every business will also receive the occasional bad review, which can be managed, yet is also to be expected sooner or later.
However, fake reviews are something else. Trolls and online commenters with grudges can post a false review of your business online – perhaps a joke or petty revenge for them, but potentially very damaging for you.
Here’s what you can do about fake business reviews.
Request a review removal.
Most platforms have an option for you to request an assessment of the review and, if the platform determines that the review is fake, they may remove it.
For example, all Google business reviews must meet certain criteria. They cannot be false, offensive, dangerous or a number of other prohibited categories. When you flag a false review, Google will assess it and, if they find it breaches these rules, it will be deleted.
Other platforms, including Facebook, Yelp and Yellow Pages all have options for review assessment.
Obviously, deletion is the best outcome, but cases are not always clear cut and some business owners will attempt to have negative (but true) reviews removed, which muddies the waters for assessors.
Respond to the review.
If you are unsuccessful in removing the review, consider responding to it.
The challenging part here is not to respond with nasty comments, sarcasm or anything else resembling unprofessional behaviour. No matter how angry you are about the review, a response that is in any way childish or churlish is likely to make other readers take the review seriously.
With a professional tone, point out how or why the review is false. A restaurant might say, ‘You stated that our fish was under-cooked, however our menu does not currently include fish. Are you certain you left your review on the right restaurant?’
Perhaps the reviewer is talking about a product purchase they made online. Your response can highlight the lack of purchase history in your system to verify the purchase and review were legitimate.
If it is not possible to prove the review is false, respond as you would for a normal negative review, apologising for the bad experience and asking them to contact you directly to rectify the issue.
Drown the false review in positive reviews.
If the false, negative review remains at the top of the page as the most recent review, it is likely it will be read by many customers.
However, by encouraging happy customers to leave a review on your business, you can literally drown the false one to minimise its impact. When you get reviews on Google, only the top three show up on the automatic results page, so by the time the false review drops into the fourth spot, new customers will be less likely to see it.
Monitor your reviews.
Of course, if you don’t keep an eye on your reviews, you won’t even be aware of fake comments.
This can be a reasonably time-consuming task, as there are numerous platforms where people can leave reviews and you’ll need to check back regularly to ensure no fake (or negative) reviews go unnoticed for too long.
So while fake reviews are extremely frustrating, don’t let them get you down. Just follow the steps above and remember to monitor your review platforms often so you’re onto things early.
Take control and never miss a review!
Get a notification every time a customer leaves a rating or review for your business on Google or Facebook and respond directly with Yellow Pages Connect.