Review based websites, like Yelp and TripAdvisor, have always been popular with customers when it comes to picking products and service. They give the customer the opportunity to read what people just like them think of something. They aren’t hearing the bias reviews of the company; they are hearing it from the people who actually use the product/service. 84% of Americans say online reviews have an influence on their decision to purchase a product or service. This statistic makes review management that much more important.
Although most companies do not like these types of review sites, they are necessary and are not going away, so they need to respond in an appropriate manner to negative reviews. Instead of investing in legitimate brand management companies, like chatmeter, some places like to cheat the system and buy reviews, which ultimately is deceitful and deceiving for the consumer. People will read the fake reviews, thinking that they are from real customers, and may make their decision whether to buy or not. These tactics are not only unfair to the consumer but they are also unfair to the competition. This is a form of “black hat” review management and Yelp is taking a stand against it.
Yelp has always had review filters, which weeds out fake reviews through an algorithmic process. Unfortunately, real reviews are sometimes picked out by this process and tagged as fake reviews. This can be incredibly frustrating for businesses because the filter deletes their hard earned reviews and makes review management even harder. Yelp’s first priority is ensuring that the customer gets the most legitimate information so sometimes it’s the business that loses out.
In an effort to stop these fake reviews, Yelp will start posting a “consumer alert” that will say, “We caught someone red-handed trying to buy reviews for this business.” The alert will be posted on the offender’s page for all to see. It will have a link showing the consumer exactly which reviews are fake, as well as the company’s emails trying to hire reviewers. Yelp says the alerts will be posted for 90 days (longer of the company continues to post fake reviews).
Businesses need to know that buying positive reviews is not the only way to improve your online reputation. Although they may think it will help them, being caught will hurt them even more. Consumers will remember that they were a deceitful company and take that into consideration when looking for that product/service again. Ignoring the negative comments and trying to bury them with positive ones is only a quick fix to their online reputation and there ultimately a bigger problem with in the company. Companies need to understand that they can’t sweep their problems under the rug and pretend that everything is perfect. Companies need to respond to negative reviews and let the unhappy customer know that their comments will be taken into consideration in the future to help improve whatever needs to be fixed. By responding, it shows that you care about their feedback and that you are actually going to do something about it. This is what managing you online reputation and a business is all about.