Negative or Fake Online Reviews: What to Do About It
Posting an online review is now easier than ever to do with the increase in mobile device usage. It allows customers to share their experiences on a company’s business profile for the world to see. Was the experience a good one or bad one? If it was a bad experience, then the negative review can really hurt your business and reputation online and offline. Whether that is on Yelp, Google, Facebook or other social media outlet. Over 80 percent of people who read online reviews trust what they read. This is a huge factor that should not be ignored. It is important to manage your online and offline reputation.
Why Are People Compelled to Write a Negative?
One word. Revenge. Clients who were dissatisfied with a service are more likely to write a negative review over a client who had a good experience to write a positive review. Human nature dictates angry clients will spend more time and energy to disparage and defame a business or law firm’s name. Many times these reviewers will embellish and exaggerate the severity of the experience. The reviewer’s character and personality can also play a role as well. Different personality types can trigger a person to post and share their positive or negative experience.
Some Businesses Deserve a Negative Review!
Some businesses that are not managed properly offer bad service and have absent business owners may very well deserve a negative review. This may be a wakeup call for many business owners who do not see what is going on behind the scenes of daily operations.
In today’s society, customers or competitors can easily set up a fake account on Google or Yelp using a fake name and hide behind the name simply to disparage or slander your business name. These Negative-Fake reviews may be from a person whom you have never met, serviced or retained. This is becoming more prevalent online. Slander is illegal so if someone is leaving slanderous remarks on your profile and lying then this is illegal.
On most reputable local business listings there are options to flag any review that you or someone reading may deem as inappropriate, hateful, immoral, use of vulgar language etc. However there still are no options for fake reviews. This is a concern for business owners as they are limited to what they can choose when flagging the review, so if they choose an option that is incorrect, the review may not be removed. You should simply choose the option that best suites your complaint.
The Downside to Fake Reviews
It is important to stay on top of every review of your business. Multiple platforms can be used to leave reviews, such as Yelp, Google Reviews and social media sites. If you are the owner of this business listing you should be receiving notifications from these listings such as reviews and update requests. It is a good idea to claim ownership of these profiles.
As a business owner, you should respond to real reviews good or bad. By building a strong relationship with your customers, making amends for product issues or service problems, then you build a solid reputation. When you have a low online reputation, your business can suffer. It has been estimated that more than 90% of consumers read reviews of products and businesses online.
Evaluating Bad Reviews
The first step is to begin regularly checking reviews of your business on all platforms that your business is located on. These sites need to be checked regularly. For poor reviews, be sure to take your time in responding. You need to be calm and manage your response correctly in order to take the high road and show your business cares about customers.
Bad reviews can come from anywhere. In general, they come from customers who were not satisfied with a product or service. However, they can also be created by disgruntled employees, spammers and competitors. Learning how to spot a fake review can help you to take action.
Determine the Real from the Fake
To start your search, try to find out if the reviewer is a real person. You can do this by searching online as well as within your business. Look for the consumer’s info in your point of sale software system. See if the purchased item or service date coincides with your records. Check to see if any customer service records indicate the issue.
Were details given in the review? Did they name certain employees or a business location? Have you noticed an influx of bad reviews within a short time frame? These points suggest that the reviewer is fake.
How to Respond to a Negative Review
If the review looks to be authentic, the best option is to try to resolve the situation with the client and try to have them remove it altogether. If that is not an option, it is best to respond to the review online as the business owner. (You may need to claim your business first). Respond in a professional calm manner that does not include details of the case. Keep it professional and sincere. If it reviewer was upset about the cost for the attorney’s fees, simply try to explain what the conditions were in the original agreement and how the fees were applied. Try to reassure and offer a solution to try to resolve any indifference. Example: Dear John, I am sorry to hear about your situation, we take any negative reviews about our practice very serious and always work hard to provide the best representation for our clients. We reviewed your case file again and found that under the agreement, we billed you for X amount of hours which is standard for the case we represented you for. In addition, we spent 5 hours of paperwork that we did not bill you for. If you still feel you were overcharged then I welcome the opportunity to discuss this with you. Please call me or e-mail me at your earliest convenience. Sincerely, Attorney John Doe.
At least readers will see that you are responsible and take your business seriously. If the review was positive then thank the person for the kind words.
If the review is fake or inappropriate, you can dispute and request the review be removed by flagging it right from the review page where it is posted. You will see a small flag next to the review. Click on it to open up the form. Choose the best option as to why you are flagging it. If you still see the review after 5 days, flag it again. This may take a few times but if they see it flagged by different individuals with different e-mail responses they may look at it closer and take it down. See below.
First Step – Googles Report a Policy Violation (Flagging)
You can take it a step further by obtaining a court order to have the review removed as it is slanderous and false. A process that not many are willing to take on. See below.
Second Step – Removing Content From Google (Legal Action)
This page Removing Content From Google will help you get to the right place to report content that you would like removed from Google’s services under applicable laws. Providing us with complete information will help us investigate your inquiry.
Following these tips will help you to remain successful as you deal with negative as well as fake reviews of your business.