An online review can make or break your business. As both customers and businesses increasingly turn to peer-based websites such as Google, TripAdvisor, and Yelp to find local businesses and services, the importance of online reviews has also increased.
A study by Bright Local found that consumers trust online reviews about local businesses more than any other source of information when researching a company before making a purchase. With this in mind, if you own a business, you must take steps to ensure your reputation is well-vetted.
After all, an untrustworthy review could drive potential customers away from your business and have costly ramifications on your bottom line. Luckily there are several ways you can assess the reliability of an online review site so that you can be confident that any positive reviews about your business are legitimate. Read more for tips on how you can do just that.
Quick History of Online Reviews
Review sites (or “aggregators”) first appeared on the internet in the early 2000s. The earliest and best-known such site was Epinions, which was founded in 2000. In 2002, ConsumersReview.com followed.
TripAdvisor launched in 2000, but it didn’t become a major source of online reviews until the early 2000s. In 2003, Yelp came online. The precursor to Google My Business was launched in 2004.
In 2005, TripAdvisor acquired ConsumersReview.com and launched Facebook groups for travelers to discuss destinations and experiences. In 2006, Google acquired Zagat and launched Google Maps for business reviews.
Role of Online Reviews in Ecommerce
With the increased use of social media, consumers now have more ways to express their opinions about brands than ever before. According to a report by the CMO Council, 92% of consumers read online reviews, and 81% say that reading reviews has influenced their purchasing decisions.
To ensure that your business stays competitive in the marketplace, you’ll want to make sure you’re getting positive reviews from happy customers. Getting reviews, however, can sometimes be tricky, especially if you don’t know how to go about it. If you want to encourage customers to leave online reviews, here are a few tips that might help:
How To Get More Reviews?
Offer Great Product/Service
Another way you can ensure that all the reviews about your business are positive is to ensure that you offer a great product or service. If your product or service is top-notch and worth the money, then it’s likely that customers will leave positive reviews about you.
If you’re unsure about the quality of your product or service, you can hire a mystery shopper to go to your establishment and order a typical product or service. The shopper will then leave a review on your business based on their experience with your product or service.
This way, you’ll have a better idea of where improvements can be made.
Educate Your Customer
Reviews and comments are an opportunity for Ecommerce to educate your customers on your business practices and products. For example, if you’re selling food, invite your customers to share their dietary restrictions in their reviews so the rest of the public knows exactly what they’re getting.
You can also use reviews to address any negative comments that have been left on your business. If a customer finds fault with your business, address the issue as quickly and sincerely as possible.
If a customer has left a negative review, this is also an opportunity to turn that customer into a happy one. Depending on what the review entailed, you may want to respond publicly on your business’s review page, or privately via email.
Make it Simple
Always try to make it easy for your customers to leave reviews about your business. You can do this by providing customers with a link to your review page (if you have one), and by finding a way to capture your customers’ feedback and comments.
This can be done at the end of each transaction by asking your customers to leave a comment, or by having a simple feedback form on your website or in your store. You can also ask your customers to leave reviews on social media.
Be careful, however, that you don’t come across as too pushy in your request. Customers may become annoyed and leave negative reviews as a result.
Offer Something in Return
Review sites like Yelp offer an incentive to businesses to leave reviews on their site. You can offer a similar incentive to customers who are likely to leave reviews on their initiative. One way to do this is by setting up a social media account (Facebook, Instagram, etc.) for your business.
After each transaction, inform your customers that they can log in and leave a review on your social media page where they can also leave feedback about the products and/or services they’ve purchased.
By doing this, you’ll be able to collect reviews from customers who would otherwise not leave reviews on review websites.
Ways to Assess an Online Review
Check the Date of the Review
There are a variety of reasons why a review may be fake. Perhaps a disgruntled former employee decided to try and sabotage your company by writing a negative review. Or maybe a competitor hired a third-party company to write fake positive reviews about their business.
Whatever the motivations behind fake reviews are, they are likely to be fairly recent. This is because fake reviews almost always come from online review platforms. These types of websites typically don’t allow reviews more than a year old. Since they aren’t easy to change, a fake review posted more than a year ago is far less likely to be a legitimate review than one that’s been posted recently.
Check for Authenticity
Whenever possible, try to find the source of the review. If it was posted on a site like Google or Yelp, then you can see exactly who left the review and what account it was posted under. If possible, do a quick search of the person’s name to see if they have any online presence that you can find.
This can give you insight into their location, level of expertise, and general reputation online. If they have a personal website, social media account, or other online presence, this will give you a better idea of who they are and allow you to vet their review further. If you can’t find the source of the review, this doesn’t automatically mean that it’s fake.
However, it does mean that it’s more difficult for you to validate the review’s authenticity. This is especially true if the review is on a general review site like Google or Yelp where people don’t have to leave any identifying information.
Check for Transparency
Fake reviews are often written very positively with few details about the experience. In contrast, authentic reviews tend to have a more balanced and transparent tone. In addition, they often provide specific examples that help you understand what to expect if you visit the business in question.
If the review seems far too positive and doesn’t include any details about the experience at all, then it could be a fake review. Similarly, if the review is overwhelmingly negative, with no positives to speak of, then it could also be fake.
Check for Consistency
Are there a few reviews on the same site that are all written by the same person or multiple people with the same name? If so, then the review may not be authentic. This is especially true if the reviews are overwhelmingly positive. This is often a sign that the reviews are fake.
On the other hand, if there are several reviews written by a variety of people with a variety of different experience levels and backgrounds, then these reviews are far more likely to be authentic. After all, it’s very unlikely that a single person fabricated multiple reviews from different people.
Ask Yourself if It’s Realistic
This is a good rule of thumb for all types of reviews. For example, if a review praises the customer service at your business, are you capable of offering those levels of service consistently?
Similarly, if the review is overwhelmingly positive, can you truly offer that level of quality all the time? If the answer to either of these questions is no, then the review is likely to be fake.
How to Handle Untrustworthy Reviews
Unfortunately, not all online reviews are trustworthy. There will always be a small percentage of businesses that approach customers and request that they leave a positive review in return for a discount or other incentive.
While this type of review is not necessarily false, it’s important to note that it may not be an accurate representation of the overall quality of your service or product. Before taking any action against an untrustworthy review, you should first determine whether it’s even worth your time. If the review is very old, it may not have a significant impact on your business.
However, if the review is recent, you should take steps to dispute it. In most cases, you’ll need to do this in writing. You’ll want to be as detailed as possible, explaining why the review is inaccurate and providing any supporting evidence you can. Keeping records of all interactions with customers is a good idea, in case you ever need to dispute a review.
Reviews are an essential part of doing business in the modern digital age. As a business owner, it’s important to pay close attention to the reviews that are written about your company. If you find that a review is fake, don’t panic.
Instead, take steps to rectify the situation and resolve the issue. By following the tips outlined above, you can more easily spot fake reviews and determine whether or not they are a legitimate reflection of your business.
With this knowledge, you can confidently go about doing business knowing that your reputation is well-vetted and trustworthy.
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