Don’t Fake Customer Reviews – 5 Ways to Get Business-Building Reviews Online

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Don’t Fake Customer Reviews - 5 Ways to Get Business-Building Reviews Online

Did you know that forging fake customer reviews is not only a big no-no, but it can get your business fined? Here are five ways to get real customer to leave glowing reviews for your business online.

Fake Customer Reviews Can Get Your Company in Hot Water

While it might be tempting to fake a few customer reviews online here and there, you should know that it could be costly to your business’ reputation and bottom line if you go down that road.

Most business owners understand the value that positive reviews, “likes” and 5-star ratings left on Yelp, Citysearch, “Best of” and other online business directory sites can bring. Here are five ways to go about getting online reviews from your customers the right way in order to convince people to try your business.

It’s never been so easy for consumers to let people know about the businesses they love – and those they aren’t so crazy about – using online review and rating tools on sites like Citysearch.com, Yelp.com, Angie’s List and others, whether legitimate or otherwise.

Even though it’s difficult to identify a fake negative or positive review on these sites, studies show that they do influence consumer behavior. So much so that unscrupulous businesses and SEO companies have even engaged in leaving fake online reviews and ratings (both positive and negative) in an effort to attract consumers to their businesses or hurt those of competitors.

A recent undercover sting operation called “Operation Clean Turf” in New York caught 19 businesses that were engaged in “astroturfing”, defined by Attorney General Eric Schneiderman as “the practice of preparing or disseminating a false or deceptive review that a reasonable consumer would believe to be a neutral, third-party review.” These 19 businesses now find themselves facing $350,000 in fines as a result.

Now that you know how badly fake customer reviews can hurt your business, here are five ways to get authentic customer reviews and positive ratings online to help your company grow.

No Fake Customer Reviews Here: 5 Ways to Get Genuine Business-Building Customer Reviews

1. Make it as easy as possible for customers to leave online reviews about your business.

  • Provide links to rating and review sites on your own website, especially at points of sale
  • Take advantage of Wi-Fi and ask customers to leave a review before they leave your business or after sampling one of your products or services
  • Use social media to alert brand advocates about “best of” contests in which your business is participating

2. Ask customers to leave positive reviews for your business on specific sites.

Use your email newsletter, website, social networks and even direct mail marketing to ask your customers (or select groups of your “best” customers) to leave online reviews and ratings for your business on specific sites. Focus on one site per quarter, or ask customers to weigh in on a site where someone may have left a negative review about your business or one of your products or services in order to provide a different perspective.

3. Use post-sale marketing to stimulate positive customer reviews online.

Use email to follow up after a sale to get feedback, gauge satisfaction and provide them with a link to one or more review sites, making it easy for a customer to leave a positive review for your business online.

4. Make at least one aspect of the customer experience distinct and memorable.

Improving the customer experience is one sure-fire way to interest – or re-interest – consumers in your brand and get them talking about your business again. By ensuring that some aspect of the customer experience is unique, distinct and memorable, you not only increase your odds of getting them to leave a positive review for your business online, you practically write the review script, as well.

5. Make sure the last touch is positive and just as provocative as the first.

Much has been said about the importance of first impressions when it comes to generating leads and sales. As important as the first impression is to conversion, the last impression is to reviews and word of mouth marketing. A bad moment at the tail end of the customer experience can leave a “bad taste” in the customer’s mouth – and this can translate directly into a negative or less-than-glowing review of your business. Make sure that the last touch a customer has with your business (this could even be a post-sale interaction) is a positive one!

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