How Fake and Exaggerated Online Reviews Can Affect Small Businesses

reviews, Naperville business law attorneysGoogle, Yelp, Facebook, Angie’s List, Better Business Bureau, Foursquare, and a host of other websites allow customers to leave reviews about the businesses they frequent. While customer feedback is a valuable resource for any business owner, online review websites are also vulnerable to misuse. A person can leave a review for a business even if he or she has never interacted with the company. In addition, there is little stopping customers from posting reviews that are completely unfounded. If you are a business owner, you should be aware of how online reviews can affect your business and how to respond to these reviews.

Fake Ratings and Reviews

Reviews can dramatically influence a business’s success. According to various surveys, approximately 85 percent of people say that they trust an online business rating or review as much as a personal recommendation. An average increase of just one star on a website like Google or Yelp can lead to an increase of 5-9 percent increase in business revenue. Unfortunately, negative reviews can damage a business’s reputation even if they are unsubstantiated.

One study conducted by the Harvard Business School found that as many as 20 percent of online reviews are fraudulent. There are companies that hire writers, often from overseas, to compose reviews for products and services they have never purchased. Other times, negative reviews are written by actual customers, but the reason for the low rating is unreasonable. For example, a movie theater patron may watch a boring movie and then decide to give the theater a one-star review, even though the theater itself was clean and efficient.

Responding to Bad Online Reviews

Preventing negative reviews is always preferable to addressing negative reviews, but doing so is not always possible. If your business has received one- or two-star reviews, you may be wondering if there is anything you can do to mitigate the damage. Responding to the review may help other potential customers see that you are engaged and care about your customers’ satisfaction—but is essential to do so respectfully and professionally. Even if you believe the review is unreasonable or blatantly false, never attack the reviewer. Instead, ask for further information about the complaint. If someone leaves a negative review and the reasons for the review are reasonable and rational, offer a sincere apology and look for ways to make things right with the customer.

Contact a Naperville Business Lawyer

For dependable legal guidance regarding managing online reviews or any other business concerns, turn to the Gierach Law Firm. To schedule a confidential consultation with an accomplished DuPage County business law attorney, call us at 630-756-1160 today.



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