Often times, business owners may receive reviews that were left by people who have never done business with them. Some review sites, like Google, let you flag a review if it is off-topic or violates community standards such as hate speech or profanity. Yelp is notorious for not removing reviews - even fake ones. The process of removing reviews on any site is not a quick or easy one, so it is important to only flag a review if you are sure that it is not legitimate.
Off-topic or “mistake” reviews
False or irrelevant reviews can be written purposefully or left by mistake. Before taking action, it is best to understand the intent of the reviewer. If a customer leaves a negative review about your floral delivery business’ food being undercooked, then it is likely that the user left a review for the wrong business. In Google, this would qualify as an “off-topic” review, so the best course of action would be to flag the review and, in the meantime, leave a polite reply that they may have contacted the wrong business.
Sometimes, you may encounter nonsense reviews such as gibberish, random punctuation marks, or an irrelevant comment that does not accurately describe the service you provide.
Comments like the examples above can be seen throughout the internet and are usually written by users who are not familiar with how review sites work. For the first example, a smart business owner would politely explain that reviews should describe the service they received, and possibly invite the reviewer to see what their business is all about. For the second example, be sure to thank the reviewer for the review and complimenting their service, but also leave a friendly reminder to leave a 5-star review next time.
Inflammatory fake reviews
Sometimes, you may become the victim of trolling or harassment by someone who uses profanity, threats, and hate speech to target your business on review sites. Sometimes, they may make up stories or false accusations. In extreme cases like these, it is important to flag the review as soon as possible, as this behavior violates the community guidelines of most review sites. Google, in particular, does not tolerate off-topic or false reviews, and they will usually remove these responses if you report them.
Reviews from names you don’t recognize
In some cases, you can spot fake reviews based on their name alone. If you have records of all of your past customers on hand, then you can easily spot whether they actually patronized you or not, right? Well, not always.
Sometimes, the review can be left by a family member on behalf of the customer, or it could have been left by another member of your customers’ party. The customer who made a reservation at your hotel or restaurant may not have left a review, but their unhappy friend or significant other who joined them on their trip might have done so.
For this reason, it is always best to offer the reviewer to contact you privately to discuss their issue further.