Every business encounters it sooner or later: that bad review on Yelp or Facebook or other social media site. Sometimes, you may even suspect that one of your competitors placed the review, with malicious intent. Keep reading to find out what you should do about it.
Before I tell you what you should do about it, let me ask you a question: what do you think you should do about it? Demand that the site take the review down? Find a way to confront your rival and force him or her to take it down? Go to the authorities?
The correct answer is none of the above. As Mike Moran notes on Search Engine Guide, you really can't tell when a review is fake or real. He pointed to a discussion of a study conducted by some Cornell University researchers which discovered that humans, on average, can correctly identify a fake review about 50 percent of the time. That's about the odds you'd expect to get from merely flipping a coin.
What does this mean? Basically, half the time you think a bad review of your company is fake, you're wrong and you have no way of determining which half that is! The only way to approach this, then, is to assume that legitimate customers posted every bad review of your company. If you look at it from that angle, it's pretty obvious what you should do: put on your customer service hat and do what you can to make things right.
Now you probably figure that if it's a fake review, the poster will never be satisfied by whatever you offer to make amends. Well, that is possible just as it is possible that the bad review was posted by a lunatic customer who simply won't be satisfied no matter what. But if you approach every bad review in this way, you'll gain three benefits, according to Moran. First, you'll be helping your real customers all the time, which is a way to build great customer relationships. Second, anyone who reads the exchange between you and the poster of the bad review will see that you represent a good company that wants to do things right. And third and this is sometimes the sweetest part some of the readers of the exchange will see that you're working so hard to make things right, and the poster of the bad review is being so unreasonable, that they'll tell the poster to knock it off!
Moran expands nicely on this last point. If it really is your rival company trying to sabotage your reviews, then by being kind and helpful, they will have no place to go. They will keep complaining no matter what you offer them to help and eventually everyone else will write them off as lunatics--which is very good for you. It also works if it isn't your competitor but is a real-life lunatic customer. Because you can't tell the difference, even if you think you can.
So get the whole idea of fake reviews out of your head. Treat every review as if it came from a real customer. Even if you could tell the difference between real and fake bad reviews of your company, your potential customers, reading those reviews, surely can't. By their lights, if you ignore those reviews, you're not responding to legitimate concerns and that's not a reputation you want to have. Good luck!
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