Getting fake, negative reviews has become an unfortunate part of doing business, but that doesn’t mean you have to tolerate them. Fake reviews are often created by upset customers, disgruntled employees, and sometimes competitors. However, you don’t have to allow these fake, negative reviews to ruin your business.
If you’re dealing with an influx of unfounded negative reviews, or even just a few here and there, here’s how to make sure fake reviews don’t ruin your business.
1. Gather your decision-making data from trusted, verifiable sources
The first thing to remember is that gathering data from online reviews isn’t going to give you accurate insights. Whether positive or negative, online reviews have value. However, they aren’t a reliable source of data.
For data that drives your business decisions, focus on gathering data from sources like customer satisfaction (CSAT) surveys. For instance, the CSAT surveys from Delighted will give you excellent feedback on your business from real customers.
Although statistics show some customers lie on surveys, it’s far less of a problem than fake online reviews.
CSAT surveys are particularly useful because they’re simple, which will give you more responses. For instance, a simple CSAT survey asks the customer, “how satisfied were you with [company or product name]?” Then, the customer selects a number from 1-5, where 1 means they were “very dissatisfied” and 5 means they were “very satisfied.”
2. Don’t sell on platforms that allow reviews without a purchase
Some platforms allow people to review products without a verified purchase. For example, Amazon allows anyone to review a product. This makes sense because people get products and services from various sources. However, it also means it’s easier to write fake reviews.
While many people are aware that fake, positive reviews are an entire industry, not all fake reviews are positive. Many businesses pay people to write negative reviews about their competitors, and it’s easy on these platforms.
Remove your products from online platforms that allow anyone to submit product reviews. This means giving up a revenue source, but with a strong marketing campaign, you won’t miss those sales.
When people must make a purchase to leave a review, your competitors will have to spend a lot of money to run a smear campaign.
3. Respond to all negative reviews
Part of managing negative reviews, whether real or fake, is responding to make things right. When you reach out to upset customers, genuine customers will usually be open to a solution. On the other hand, people who were paid by your competitor to write a negative review probably won’t respond.
By responding to all negative reviews, even the ones that look fake, you’re showing the world how you respond to customer issues. You’re showing how you respond to issues and how far you’re willing to go to make things right.
Your customers and potential customers won’t know which reviews were planted by a competitor or a disgruntled, former employee. If you skip the negative reviews you know are fake, you’ll miss out on the chance to display your integrity.
4. Research people who post negative reviews
When you know a review is fake, dig around to see what else you can find. Follow every trail, including searching for their email address in Google, and looking for other suspicious reviews they’ve made.
If you think you’ve found a serial paid fake reviewer, contact the company where the reviews are posted and send them all of your information. You might be able to get the user removed from the system and have all of their reviews removed across the board.
5. Point out the inconsistencies in fake reviews
Sometimes fake, negative reviews will include references that don’t make sense because the person hasn’t really used your product. In your reply, point out all of these factors.
For example, if you sell bungee cords with plastic hooks and a bad review mentions rust on the metal hooks, call that out in your reply. Make sure anyone reading the review will know the author didn’t really buy your product.
Be sure to quote the original review, since the person might edit their review to remove the incorrect information.
Don’t let fake, negative reviews ruin your business
There are real penalties for companies who intentionally publish fake reviews to ruin other businesses. Report fake reviews when you see them, and if you suspect a competitor is behind it, contact a lawyer immediately. You’ve worked too hard to create your business to tolerate anyone taking you down.