Last week we covered how businesses can use reviews – whether positive or negative – to improve their customer relationships. Our research reveals that 75% of shoppers are worried about fake reviews. That’s worth exploring.
Some businesses are so worried about negative reviews damaging their brand, they censor them; cherry-picking the positives, deleting the negatives or even paying for fakes.
But at a time when trust is fragile, and fake news is making headlines, bogus feedback can do far more harm to your businesses, than a genuine negative comment from a perturbed customer.
We’ll explain why you should be worried about fake reviews, how to spot them and how to eliminate them for good.
Why fake feedback is harmful
Reviews are important to customers – Feefo research shows that 95% of consumers are influenced by feedback. Shoppers want to feel confident that the product or service they are buying is legitimate and good value for money. 66% of shoppers say that reading reviews is their go-to method when making decisions, choosing whether to trust a brand and, ultimately, whether to make a purchase.
If you can’t guarantee reviews are legitimately from customers that have used your business, then they cannot be relied upon to make informed decisions. With fake reviews making the news for misleading customers, many are taking steps to ensure they aren’t fooled. 81% read several negative reviews to judge consistency of feedback and more than half (54%) say they would be suspicious if they couldn’t see any negative reviews.
With consumers getting better at spotting fake reviews and actively looking for negative feedback, businesses who acquire phony ratings are at risk of turning shoppers against them.
Of course, fake reviews may not always be positive. Some unscrupulous businesses pay to target their competitors with fake negative feedback, in an attempt to knock down their rating and harm their sales. This could mean you’re forced to spend additional time verifying each review yourself, so that you know what feedback to listen to, and which to try and get removed.
Some review sites have fraud detection, or the ability to ‘flag’ reviews. However, with so many fake reviews out there, plenty get through the filters, and it can be a struggle to process every false rating reported. If your business receives a lot of feedback, your customer services team are no doubt going to struggle to spot every fake review, too.
How to identify fake reviews
Fake reviews have become harder to spot over the years, but there are still telltale signs to look out for. Here’s our top five:
Generic reviews that are overly positive or negative, and don’t mention any specifics, are immediately suspicious. If customers have had an exceptionally good or bad experience with a company, they’ll likely want to leave some details e.g. the package arrived late, the member of staff that dealt with their inquiry was fantastic, etc.
Real reviews will usually include comments regarding how the product/service they purchased has impacted their life in some way. If the feedback doesn’t refer to value, or seems unemotional, it could be fake.
If the review contains industry-specific jargon – terms you would only expect someone who works in your business sector to know – the comment may have been left by a competitor, rather than a genuine customer.
A sudden influx of either positive or negative reviews should always raise alarm bells, unless you’ve recently made a big push to ask customers for feedback.
5) The reviewer
Look at the reviewer themselves and the other reviews they’ve left; if they’ll all the same or are strikingly similar, there’s a big chance they aren’t a genuine customer.
How to eliminate fake reviews
Removing fake reviews is typically not an easy task. Most sites will let you flag or report suspicious reviews, but they may not get removed for months. Others will allow you to ‘hide’ the review until the customer can confirm they have genuinely made a transaction with you. However, this system has its own flaws, as it could anger customers who have left a genuine review and lead them to assume you are trying to remove their negative comments.
Keep fake feedback at bay, forever
The best way to eliminate fake reviews – and stop them from ever returning – is to take fake reviewers out of the equation. By using an invite-only feedback platform, like Feefo, your business has the power to send a personal review requests to genuine customers only. This means every review is verified, so consumers know they can trust them and your business. It also saves your business precious time, as your team won’t have to check and verify every single review themselves.
That’s good because genuine, verified reviews can:
• Increase consumer trust in your business, making shoppers more likely to convert
• Help both SEO and PPC campaigns and display star ratings in Google search results, boosting visibility and website traffic
• Give you crucial business insights which can be used to improve your service, products and processes
At Feefo, we’ve been fighting fake reviews for more than seven years and our invite-only platform ensures that only genuine customers can leave feedback about your business. Save your business lost sales, time and stress by signing up for a free trial today.
Don’t forget to check back next week for our final tip and FREE guide to consumer reviews!