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With the increased competition, dynamic trading conditions, drastic improvements in the digital world and highly educated consumers, reputation management plays a critical role for the success of an organisation today more than ever. And online reviews have become one of the major factors that impact the business reputation, both positively and negatively.So it has become crucial to manage bad reviews. In a world where people are highly depending on digital sources such as search engines, social media platforms and online communities when making purchase decisions, online reviews have gained the power to make or break any business.

The researches in this field have found out that;

  • More than 90% of consumers read online reviews before making purchase decision
  • More than 85% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations
  • More than 90% of consumers who read online reviews will use a business if it has 4 or more stars
  • More than 85% of people are hesitant to purchase from a business with bad reviews

So it is evident that any business regardless of the size or the industry must invest their time and effort in managing online reviews.

 

However, it is crucial to understand the motives behind the reviews prior to taking any actions. Different consumers have different reasons or motives to post an online review. It can be a very genuine review that is posted with the sole objective of informing the business owner about the experience or it can be to educate and inform the rest of the consumers about the product or it can be a fake or false review that has been posted just to tarnish your business image. Once you clearly identify the motive of the review, you can take necessary steps to address it. 

 

One of the main challenges faced by the business organisations is to identify and manage fake reviews. Fake reviews can be really difficult to spot and will have a huge impact on the business reputation.

However, there are few tips that you can use to recognise a fake review,

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Lack of accurate details

Fake reviews often focus on the general aspects of the product or service rather than the specifics. For an example a true review of a hotel booking would include specific details such as the hotel features, meals, check-in, check-out etc. But a fake review would include general details to create a scene or a story such as the people that they went to the hotel with, type of the vacation etc.

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Check the reviewer profile

Dig deeper into the profile of the reviewer. Check whether there is a profile picture, personal information, other reviews posted from the same profile, whether it has posted extremely positive reviews and five star ratings to your competitors etc.

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The timing of the reviews

See if there’s an abnormal spike in the number of reviews posted during specific time frames. This can happen when third party companies or competitors pay people to post negative reviews.

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Use of too much first-person pronouns

Most of the fake reviewers frequently use “I” and “me” to sound credible.

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Repetition of the same phrases

Check if a number of reviews have the same set of phrases repeated again and again.

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Repetition of the same phrases

Check if a number of reviews have the same set of phrases repeated again and again.

Once you identify a fake review, there are few things you can do to remove the review,

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Report to Google

In Google, you can flag the review and report a policy violation. There you get to enter your details and the policy violation type. If more people flag the review, the process of removing the review would be faster.

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Go to Google My Business account and get in touch with a Google support associate

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Report the review mentioning the reason in platforms like Facebook, Yelp and TripAdvisor.

If a review has made a significant negative impact to the business and you have verified this as a fake review, make sure to share the news with your followers on social platforms like Facebook and Twitter. This shows that you are always transparent and honest and will also help to generate positive publicity.

 

Even Though you remove all the fake reviews, there’s a very high chance that there are other negative reviews by real unhappy customers that you should address. If you have a proper game plan to manage bad online reviews, these can be converted into positive business opportunities that will help you to attract more new customers while enhancing the loyalty of the existing customers.

Here are some essential tips to consider to manage bad reviews online;

  1. Respond promptly

Most of the time customers leave a negative review soon after their experience with the product or service. Addressing the issue promptly shows that you care about and value the customer. And also leaving an unanswered negative review online for a long time can impact the purchase decisions of other customers by creating a negative image of the business. Therefore make sure you always respond to your customer reviews within a day. 

  1. Investigate the issue

Always try to understand the issue and the reason why the customer had a negative experience with your product or service. This makes it easier to address the negative review. Sometimes the reviews can seem unfair and unreasonable. But always try to put yourself in the shoes of the customer and understand their point of view. This will help you to relate to the problem faced by the customer and hence can easily offer a satisfying solution to the customer.

  1. Be polite and professional

Sometimes, a strong negative review can make you feel vulnerable and emotional. However, you should take a step back, collect your thoughts and always respond politely. 

  1. Apologize to customers sincerely

Customers can feel offended and disappointed if their issue is not taken seriously. Show genuine empathy towards the problem and you’ll be surprised by the change an honest apology can make.

  1. Take the problem offline

Contact the customer privately via an email, direct message or phone call. This is more effective than commenting back and forth publicly and easier for both parties to understand the issue and to come to a solution without any misunderstandings. 

  1. Take an extra step

In situations where a simple apology will not make up for the negative experience the customers had, take an extra step to make the customers happy and make them feel that you genuinely care about them. This doesn’t have to be very expensive, but a small gift card, flowers with a note appreciating them and apologizing for their negative experience and any other creative heartfelt gift is enough to win back your customers.

  1. Be appreciative

All reviews are useful reviews. Appreciate the customers for taking their time to leave a review that helps in identifying the issues of the business and to improve the services to the customers. No matter how harsh the review is, always appreciate the feedback by saying thank you. 

  1. Follow up with negative reviews

Make sure the customer is happy and his/her issue has been solved. This encourages loyalty among customers. You can always try to be creative and send some discounts or coupons to these customers. This allows the customers to give a second chance to your business and there is a very high chance that they will share their positive experience online.

  1. Share the reviews with the employees

Share both the good and bad reviews with the employees. Good reviews motivate employees while negative reviews help them identify their mistakes and areas to improve. This helps to create a customer centric mindset among employees.

  1. Learn from the mistakes

Make sure that you don’t repeat the same mistake again and again. The constructive feedback that businesses can receive through reviews are priceless. Take these reviews seriously and identify all the internal issues, communication gaps, other opportunities in the market and every other detail that you can use to improve your business.

 

It takes years of hard work to build a positive reputation for your business, but one negative review would be enough to tarnish it. And you would have to spend so much money and effort trying to restore the image. So take managing online reviews seriously. Make this a business priority and assign a responsible person to monitor the reviews regularly. 

We hope this article helped you to get a better understanding on the impact of online reviews and on different ways to handle them.

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