How many of us, when considering making a major purchase, deciding where to go for dinner, or thinking about our next holiday, scour review websites for inspiration and guidance?
User reviews can help consumers avoid pitfalls, get the most value for money and can be a great way for businesses that offer high quality products and services to generate new business, and reap rewards for their efforts.
While this is generally considered a good thing, there are downsides. What happens when reviews aren’t genuine? Fake online reviews can have a lasting negative effect on a business, and it is often difficult to do anything about them.
Can fake reviews be a problem for my business?
Fake reviews can be a particular problem for businesses in the hospitality industry, or those that sell products directly to consumers, but with the increasing popularity of review sites, false online reviews can affect a wide variety of industries and sectors. If negative reviews are posted about your business, it can be extremely detrimental, and it is a difficult problem to remedy. It is worth keeping an eye on review sites, particularly those that are specific to your industry, and monitoring the comments about your business to see if you notice anything suspicious.
What should I do if I suspect fake reviews of my business are being posted?
If you think you have stumbled across a competitor publishing false negative reviews about your business, your options are, unfortunately, limited. Depending on the site, you might be able to appeal to the site admin, but it can be difficult to prove that a review is false. Some review sites, such as Yelp, are starting to implement a tougher policy for businesses that post fake reviews, and hopefully others will follow.
Is this going to be an ongoing problem in the future?
As consumers become more aware of the risk of false information in product reviews, hopefully review sites will realise the importance of maintaining their credibility by taking measures to prevent false or misleading information being posted.
Although it is difficult for users to detect false reviews, software programs are being developed which claim up to 90% accuracy, and it is believed that they will be used further to identify and penalise businesses that post fake reviews.
For now, there may not be a lot you can do about fake reviews posted online. Monitoring the situation and continuing to deliver your products and services to the highest possible standard is your best weapon against false or misleading reviews.