Recently, the bill for the services of my marketing communication agency, in this case copywriting, was not paid. The debtor was of the opinion that the discussed text objectives had not been achieved, although the figures showed otherwise. My conditions were clear: I engaged a collection agency.
The debtor was irritated and put a lot of pressure. And so it started to gnaw at me.
What if this debtor would hire a few ‘acquaintances’ to provide my Google Business Page with bad fake reviews. What then?
A few years ago I rented an apartment in Berlin through Airbnb for a weekend away. With Airbnb you pay everything in advance. But unexpectedly the host was waiting for me at the apartment. I had to pay €40 in cash in city tax. Alternatively, I could sign a document on the spot stating that I was in Berlin for business purposes. I refused. After the weekend, my profile was completed with 2 out of 5 stars. I had not kept to the agreements, the review described.
Bad review sticks
A bad review sticks to your business or personal profile.
You can report these types of reviews to Google. But usually to no avail. A client of our agency received a 1 star Google review from a fake client twice; probably a competitor. Those two reviews were then liked dozens of times. Reporting this to Google had no effect. But because of the many likes on these reviews, Google did ensure that the bad reviews remained ‘sticky’ at the top of the results for months. Professional service providers, such as Feedback Company and Trustpilot, understand this problem and respond to it. Trustpilot removed more than 1.5 million fake reviews in 2020 based on an algorithm. Feedback Company will contact the person who left the review in the event of a report of abuse. But yes, these paid tools are not a solution for every company. And what if the reaction is not 100% fake, but mainly stems from irritation. Or what if it aims to influence or even blackmail you?
Fake or irritation
‘Fake’ will now be higher on the political agenda. Certainly after Dutch MPs were misled via deepfake. It is good that this is getting attention. Fake accounts are a plague. And the development that allows you to create ‘funny’ fake Facebook or LinkedIn posts yourself via fake news generators is also dangerous. But what do you do if the review is not fake but a little bit fake? A grumpy customer who expresses his or her irritation through a bad review? Or a business relationship that uses a bad review as a threat? If the provider of the review facility, such as Google, suspects that it is a ‘disagreement’, the review will not be adjusted anyway. Airbnb also decided in my personal case to leave the bad review. The organization was unable to control the incident, it was reported. Airbnb gave the landlord the benefit of the doubt.
The cure: collect reviews!
The best remedy for bad reviews is actually quite simple (but is not taken seriously by many companies): start collecting actively! The good reviews outweigh the bad. Suppose: based on 20 reviews, you as a business organization have an average Google rating of 4.6. Two grumpy customers rate you with a 1. Your average drops to a 4.3. But a 4.3 is still an acceptable figure. With a lower number of reviews, you are much more vulnerable.
Ask for reviews
A useful way for B2B organizations to get more reviews is to compose a strong email. In the e-mail you add a personal link, with which customers can immediately leave that review in Google or another review tool. Above all, give customers the freedom to be critical. A 3 or 4 as a rating instead of a 5 is sometimes not so bad. Certainly not if the feedback contains meaningful information with which you can improve your service. Fake reviews or irritation reviews are unavoidable for the time being. As a B2B company it is therefore better to arm yourself against it.
Olaf Geysendorpher of Marketing Communication Agency Proven Context is an entrepreneur, copywriter and above all a marketer. He likes to share his vision on marketing with the Marketing Tribune community.