Protect Your Business Reputation: How To Fight Back Against False Reviews And Win.
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Originally Posted On: https://www.bellaviablatt.com/dispute-false-online-review/
You’ve worked hard to build your business. You treat your clientele like royalty. Your attention to detail is second to none in developing and providing optimal products and services. Every bit of effort you’ve poured into your company has involved you putting your best foot forward.
The good news is your commitment has paid off. You’ve cultivated a thriving brand that generates substantial revenue with impressive profit margins. Your vision, passion, and buzzing energy have yielded the results you deserve.
Unfortunately, extenuating factors outside your control can prove catastrophic for your bottom line. While your mind might veer to a worldwide emergency like COVID-19 or an unforeseen disruption in the market making your offerings obsolete, we’re discussing another, potentially more damaging snafu. After all, there are often ways to pivot and adapt to emergencies and market disruptions. The topic we’re speaking about doesn’t usually allow you to adjust or redirect.
We’re discussing a situation that can cause undue damage to your business’s reputation when you’ve done nothing to warrant the backlash you’re receiving.
Namely, false reviews can absolutely devastate your business.
For one, you aren’t psychic, and preparing for something you don’t see coming is impossible. Thus, these unforeseen reputational assaults can throw even the savviest entrepreneurs for a loop.
Since these reviews don’t reflect actual events, preparing to fight against them can feel like battling an invisible enemy. How can you solve a customer issue that doesn’t actually exist?
How Can False Reviews Hurt Your Business?
Broadly, false reviews hurt your business the same way negative reviews hurt all companies. The primary difference between the two is that a fraudulent review doesn’t reflect reality and is a direct attack against your company.
So, let’s examine how false negative reviews can hurt your business:
The Majority of Consumers Rely on Online Reviews
Yelp, OpenTable, Angi, Google, Facebook, etc., are all places where consumers can leave reviews or feedback on a business or its products/services. These trusted resources help people of all demographics and socioeconomic backgrounds make informed purchasing decisions.
A 2021 study claims that 90% of surveyed consumers visit review sites prior to buying a product or service. Moreover, 80% of shoppers consult review sites before they visit or use a nearby business.
One of the oldest, most stalwart review sites is Yelp, a highly revered platform possessing well over 244 million reviews.
The bulk of reviews on Yelp are for local services but also reach retail, food and hospitality, health, and all other industries. 72% of these reviews are favorable recommendations.
These stars can take your business to the next level or send it spiraling toward rock bottom. The Harvard Business School discovered an increase of one star for restaurants on Yelp can lead to a revenue increase of 5% to 9%.
Yelp is undoubtedly the quintessential review space. Still, a platform like Angi has 5 million subscribers, while TripAdvisor has 460 million-plus monthly visitors.
Given the immense influence of online reviews, it’s unsurprising to hear about the detrimental impact of negative reviews. Specifically, 86% of consumers will hesitate to buy products or services from companies with unfavorable reviews.
What Is A False Business Review?
Often, false reviews are written to improve a business’s reputation. Some misguided companies will task someone with leaving five stars on their review platforms for products that weren’t purchased and services not rendered.
The false reviews we’re speaking of, though, are of a different nature. Specifically, these false reviews are fabrications of events that reflect your business poorly.
Now, this topic can get murky. A customer might have a different interpretation of events than you do. In this case, if the customer is reasonable, you can work things out to rectify the situation and get them to take down a negative review.
That said, there can be a more sinister motivation behind these false bad reviews.
Who Would Leave A Fake Bad Review For Your Business?
We must briefly view life through a cynical lens to accurately examine the type of person who’d leave a fake bad review about your business.
Here’s a list of potential perpetrators:
- A competitor who plays dirty.
- A malicious actor trying to leverage your business for free merchandise or other forms of compensation (they’ll remove the fake review if you give them what they want).
- An ex-employee with an ax to grind.
These are just a few examples that scratch the surface. Understanding exactly why someone would do something like this to your business can be galling. Either way, such unethical actions can severely damage your organization’s bottom line and reputation.
Be mindful of how a genuine bad review may seem phony at first. Remember, you’re only human, and so are your employees and customers. A client might take something the wrong way or a staff member could’ve made a mistake–it happens.
Furthermore, you can’t see everything. You might not have witnessed the incident that led to the negative review.
Similarly, someone could have a poor experience with your products that doesn’t seem likely and give your business one-star. In such an instance, you must perform due diligence to ensure the customer is real before crafting the appropriate response.
How Can You Find Out If A Review Is Fake?
Below is some detective work you can perform to determine whether a bad review is fake:
- Ensure the customer who left the review is in your point of sale software or CRM. If you can’t find them, they’re probably not your customer.
- Have they contacted customer service? If they have, it’ll be recorded in your system. Respond with a direct link to your customer service page if the negative reviewer isn’t on your company records.
- Can the person who left the review identify the employee who helped them? Can they provide other specific details? An authentically disgruntled customer may struggle to name your staff member. Still, anyone who’s had a bad experience with your business will usually note the names involved.
- An influx of negative reviews in a short time could indicate a spammer or competitor is looking to inflict damage on your company’s reputation.
- When a reviewer recommends a competitor in their negative review, it’s a red flag that your competitor is responsible.
Say this process unearths an authentic customer. You can go into full de-escalation mode and do what you can to reach an amicable solution.
Alternatively, if you’ve discovered the reviewer is fake, you have a few choices.
Review platforms like Google can remove fake reviews. Whether they actually take down the fake negative review is a different story. Moreover, the damage may have already been done. In this case, your company deserves (and could potentially receive) compensation for the harm inflicted.
You’ll have better luck getting reviews removed if they directly violate the given platform’s guidelines. Using Google as an example again, they’ll typically take down any content with bullying, harassment, discrimination, profanity, hate speech, or disclosed personal information.
However, savvy fraudsters will know not to violate a platform’s guidelines and may require more extreme measures to neutralize.
Battling False Negative Reviews With a Business Dispute Lawyer.
Typically, these are the legal reasons you can sue someone for leaving a fake review that damages your business’s reputation:
- Intentional interference with business expectancy.
- Defamation of character.
We’ll point out that this process can be complicated. You’ve got to determine who’s behind the fake review, and your case must be strong enough to win in court. Thus, aligning yourself and your company with a top-tier business dispute lawyer is critical to help you navigate this process, win your claim, and protect your business’s reputation.
Your business dispute lawyer should have an innate appreciation for the discretion and sensitivity of these scenarios. They’ll treat you and your business with the respect you deserve to work tirelessly to deliver a just outcome.
Moreover, your ideal business dispute lawyer should be a well-practiced expert in internet defamation and corporate law. On that note, Bellavia Blatt is nationally recognized in these areas, helping clients fight back against false reviews that inflict undue harm on their company’s reputation.
Why Hire Bellavia Blatt As Your Business Dispute Lawyer To Fight Fraudulent Internet Reviews?
Bellavia Blatt has been winning business dispute cases for our clients since 1987. We service businesses like yours across New York State and the entire country.
Leonard A. Bellavia, our founder and senior partner, grasps our clients’ business-related challenges. He worked for years in his family-run business, one of the largest automobile dealer groups in New York. This vast, real-world experience gives him a unique lens into how companies operate, a type of knowledge lacking in most law firms. As such, Mr. Bellavia has a competitive edge that’s generated an impressive record for his clients.
Contact us today to learn how we can help your business fight back against fraudulent reviews with Steven Blatt, a Georgetown Law Graduate and litigation expert.