Reputation Management: Managing Fake, Unfair or Untrue Online Customer Reviews

As dastardly as it may sound, there are people on the internet who will leave intentionally negative fake reviews on business websites in order to harm your online reputation. Sometimes itís a disgruntled employee, an angry customer or even a business rival.

If this happens to you, there are some things you can do. Because of the prevalence of such review sites as Yelp, your online reputation is more important than ever and you need to do everything you can to protect it. If you find an untrue negative review about your business, take the following steps to ensure that your reputation isnít damaged.

Get the Review Removed

An untrue negative review isnít fair for you or your customers, so the first thing you should try to do is get it removed from the website.

You can contact the webmaster of the review site and ask about getting the negative review removed. This can be difficult, because their job is to provide online users with a wide range of reviews so customers can get the best idea about how a company is viewed. These sites donít want fake reviews, however, because allowing such reviews to remain on their website will lower their own reputation.

You can usually find the contact information for the webmaster at the bottom of the review page. Politely inform them in an email that you believe the review in question is fake. If you have any proof, such previous fake complaints from the same person or documentation of a disgruntled employee that may have been the one to post the review, inform the webmaster: the stronger your case, the more likely they are to take it down.

Fake reviews are a hassle, but talking to the webmaster quickly may help alleviate much of the pain that can be caused.

Ask Your Customers to Defend Your Business

If your customers are frequently on message boards and review sites, then ask them to come to your aid. If your business has a lot of loyal customers, they will more than likely defend you quickly: no one likes to see false reviews of a brand they enjoy.

This is an effective method because if there is only one or two bad reviews surrounded by many positive ones, then the negativity of the false reviews will get lost in the noise. Itís hard for a visitor to justify the negative things someone said about your company when there are 75 other reviews singing your praises.

If you want to go this route, you can ask customers to leave positive reviews after they visit your website, or you could even send out a mailer with a small incentive to leave positive reviews.

Fight Back Yourself

This is an option you have that can be used in conjunction with positive customer reviews or on its own if the customers reviews arenít coming in as fast as you would like. If the review site will not remove the false review, then you need to let others know that itís untrue.

If you do this, you want to be as brief as possible…and stay respectful. Even if the reviewer is lying, other people seeing you lash out at a possible customer will do nothing but hurt your business. Rather, lay out your argument as to why the review is untrue, providing any proof you have. You can still address their concerns and write about any changes you have made to your policies. After you are finished, leave the site and donít respond to any more allegations.

Remember, remain respectful and lay out your case.

Use Legal Action

Although it should only be used as a last resort, you can always turn to the legal system for help. This should really only be reserved for unethical competitors who are getting a lot of negative reviews posted about your business.

The reason for this is that legal action will take time and money. If there are only one or two false reviews and you run a good business, then chances are they will not hurt you too badly, if at all. But if there is a strong competitor going after you, then you can stand to lose a lot of money from bad reviews, even your entire business.

If this happens, contact a lawyer and see what your options are. It will take time, but if it saves your company, it will have been worth it.

Donít let false reviews cost your business money. Fight back and keep your online reputation great. Learn more by visiting Chatmeter.

Collin Holmes, founded Chatmeter, Inc in 2009 and serves as Chief Executive Officer. Mr. Holmes is a graduate of the University of California, Riverside and graduated with an MBA from San Diego State University. Prior to Chatmeter, Mr. Holmes served as Vice President of Product Management and Director of Product Marketing for xAD, Inc. (LocalAdXchange) (also known as V-enable). Mr. Holmes comes with a couple decades of overseeing and developing product roadmaps, business development and managing the process of driving applications to market.