Fake news and fake reviews

point of sale, pos, eftpos, shopping, retailBy Sophie Jillings, head of Asia-Pacific at TruRating

With 84 per cent of consumers trusting online reviews as much as recommendations, a good review can be worth its weight in gold, whereas a bad review can have a serious impact on your business. With the rise of fake reviews and the difficulty for consumers being able to distinguish between a real or fake one, how do you keep control of your business’ reputation and counteract any negative fake reviews?

Online reviews are big business as customers increasingly look to the internet for guidance prior to making purchases. According to the 2016 Sensis social media report, as many as 60 per cent of Australian consumers read online reviews and blogs before making a purchasing decision.

Knowing that a customer’s decision could be influenced by the opinion of an unmoderated online reviewer – or even a fake review can be terrifying. What can be even more worrying is that most online review platforms have no affiliation to business owners, so retailers have little control over bad reviews, even if they are fake.

There are some simple and effective ways companies can counteract these negative influences, and take control over their online image and reputations. The first way is to learn how to spot a fake review. Fortunately, there are usually a few telltale signs that a review is fake. This includes accounts that only review once, leave multiple stellar reviews for different products or limit their reviews to only one brand. These can be reported and removed at the discretion of the reviewing platform.

To tackle genuinely bad reviews, it’s important for you to recognise where your business has failed the customer and aim to make improvements by using it as a springboard. It can also help instill a greater sense of respect and trust in customers if you respond to both negative and positive reviews on each platform, for any failings on your part, or thanking positive reviewers for their custom. Of course, the best way to combat negative reviews is to learn exactly what your customers want using a strong internal data collection process.

TruRating data shows that 70 per cent of Australian retail customers have been seriously impressed by the service they’ve received, however 18 per cent of customers still leave the store disappointed. Businesses that wish to gain valuable insight into what impresses and disappoints customers can opt for a data capture method that allows customers to easily and efficiently provide feedback. Data collection at the point of purchase not only removes the risk of fake feedback, but also engages customers who may be happy, but who wouldn’t usually take the time to review, giving you a more complete overview of your performance.

Using point of purchase data collection from validated customers and learning how to utilise this feedback effectively is key to  improving customer experience, stemming poor reviews and to driving the overall success of your business.

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