A client of ours called recently with an interesting question. She asked me, “Are my reviews real?” With fake reviews becoming a growing trend, it’s no wonder that business owners and consumers alike are worried about this.
Most businesses understand and appreciate the value of real reviews that are written by actual customers. Prospective customers want to read authentic reviews before they make a purchase decision and they want to know that the comments are not cherry-picked.
While I cannot speak for other reviews companies, here are some things that Customer Lobby does to verify reviews:
1) No anonymous reviews: We require at minimum a first name and last initial to submit a review. This discourages non-customers from writing reviews. In some cases, reviewers may be asked to provide additional information to verify identity as a paying customer of the business they have reviewed. Customer Lobby also has a Customer Call system in which we call our clients’ customers and transcribe their reviews over the phone.
2) Flagged reviews: We have a stringent fraud protection system. Certain reviews are flagged and not published. This means, of course, that even some legitimate 5-star reviews will not see the light of day if they are flagged in our system.
3) Publishing policy: All valid reviews that do not violate our publishing guidelines will be published. Business owners must take the good reviews with the not-so-good ones, and they will have a more credible, trustworthy reviews page because of it. Prospective customers can rest assured that the reviews they are reading are not cherry-picked. Our Member Services team advises business owners on how to comment on any negative reviews.
4) Smart Invites: To write a review on Google or Yahoo, one needs to have a gmail or a yahoo email account. We do not create those user accounts in order to submit reviews for our clients. Instead, with our Smart Invite solution, reviewers with gmail and yahoo email addresses are invited to write their own reviews directly in the Google Place Page or Yahoo Local listing of the business they are reviewing.