Businesses rely upon the good grace of others to create further business. People leave feedback when they are happy with the quality of work they have received, and this feedback then becomes a testimonial to secure new clients.
So, most people will assume that a glowing review is a good thing. After all, when somebody praises you, what’s wrong with that? You may not appreciate how reviews can be doing more harm than good, so it’s probably important to take a look at them.
Unfortunately, the perfect review exists as a fallacy. It’s not a natural construct and, in many cases, is more damaging.
Consider for a moment that all businesses are not unreasonably striving to secure a glowing five-star review. Somebody has sung your praises, and they were delighted with the work they received. You assume, naturally, that prospective clients will see these reviews and automatically understand that you are a professional, somebody who can deliver a high level of service. This is not the case.
It’s actually been proven that, on average, a 4.2-star rating is the best praise a business can receive. Five stars look artificial in the modern climate. People are much more suspicious of testimonials than they used to be. We live in an age where people pay others to leave glowing feedback for them to improve their reputation artificially, and this is problematic because it creates a culture where people don’t trust the five-star reviews when they see them.
Unfortunately, fake reviews are on the rise, and the consequences can be severely damaging for businesses. An SEO platform called BrightLocal published a report in February 2022 which looked at consumer attitudes towards reviews. The results they found were concerning, to say the least.
The study concluded that 62% of all the participants agreed they had seen at least one fake review during 2021. More than 50% of all consumers were confident that Amazon contained fake reviews in 2021.
50% were also sure that Google had fake reviews, and some 37% believed they had seen fake testimony on Facebook.
Considering that 67% of all consumers admit that knowing fake reviews exist makes them question every testimony they come across, it’s not a stretch to say that the perfect review is probably more harmful to your business in the current climate. Any individual or company looking to work with you that sees a perfect review may be suspicious as to whether or not it is legitimate. Regardless of anything else, it might make them less likely to approach you.
While these fake reviews are on the rise, some companies are beginning to take steps to crack down on them. For example, Google will only rank reviews that are more than 50 words, which helps to weed out the majority of fake ones.
It’s also worth noting that there are certain scam filters coming into place. If somebody attempts to add more than a certain number of reviews from the same IP address or Google account, all of the reviews are automatically flagged as spam. It’s worth noting that while the idea is still relatively young, a combination of AI technology and human moderators is helping to do this.
So, the advent of fake reviews on the internet is harmful to a business, especially one that does just have honest recommendations from happy customers.
Knowing how to deal with the problem is very important because the way that you react to an accusation that your reviewers think will determine how successful you are with clients.
Generally speaking, you need to be calm and professional. If the accusation is made public, you need to move the discourse to a private forum. It would not be sensible to engage in a public discussion with somebody regarding the validity of feedback because this is likely to blow up and get out of control.
It’s definitely not an easy topic to navigate, and the majority of businesses will naturally get defensive, but this is not the correct reaction. Assuming a defensive stance when somebody makes an accusation doesn’t look good. Obviously, it’s understandable if your integrity has been called into question, and the instinctive need to defend your business and its services are obvious, but you need to try and remain open.
Where possible, try and connect feedback to a person. If you have social media profiles and somebody posts feedback, ask them if they are comfortable with the idea of you sharing this publicly.
Having a name on a social media profile to put on a piece of testimony can help to reduce the likelihood that somebody is going to make a false accusation. It’s probably not the most enjoyable idea, and not every client will be happy with this, but if you were working with businesses, most would understand your perspective. The majority of happy customers are usually quite friendly.
So, ultimately, the fallacy of social media and testimony is that even though you might want to aim for five star feedback, your entire collection of testimonies should not be glowing reviews. There needs to be a bit of balance, otherwise it looks artificial.
The irony of the situation is that it’s not actually something you’ve done as a business. Instead, you have to try and work around a culture which is built up on the internet of businesses trying to cut corners and get tested money for services they haven’t given, and build up a reputation they don’t deserve.
Considering that the world is beginning to catch onto this, it’s important that you take the appropriate steps to damage control and protect your reputation. If you can do this, then you’re very likely to be able to successfully maintain good testimony, but at the same time, avoid any accusations that you’re dealing in dishonourable business practices.