As Aaron Clifford, Binary Fountain’s Senior VP of Marketing observes, not many health organizations will experience a crazy viral social media campaign of negatives like one small Virginia restaurant did earlier this summer. Still, what would you do if your online reputation has a crisis moment?
What happened to the Red Hen?
The Red Hen in Lexington became famous after kicking out White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. Deserved or not, the restaurant became a target for both positive and negative reviews from people who had never once eaten at the restaurant.
In other words, a tidal wave of fake reviews.
Since the incident, Yelp has posted an “Active Cleanup Alert.” This action prevents users from leaving reviews and redirects users to share their thoughts on “Yelp Talk”, Yelp’s open discussion forum, until suspicious activity has passed.
While it is highly unlikely this will happen to your business or practice, the potential is always there, which is why you need a plan.
Are Fake Reviews Common?
Luckily, most reviews are genuine and consumer feedback should be taken seriously.
Fake reviews can happen, but they are rarely seen on a national scale like we saw with the Red Hen. The good news is many sites and apps that house ratings are actively cracking down on review spam.
How to Deal with Fake Reviews
How should you respond if you notice a surge in bad reviews about wait times, or rude front-office staff members, or a physician’s dismissive attitude? Suddenly the reputation you have worked hard to build is on the line, and you know it’s imperative to do something. But what is the best approach?
Here are a few quick tips for managing fake reviews:
Take a breath. Then take another one. You have options here. A thoughtful, sympathetic response is a course of action that will help and not harm your reputation. If the review has legal implications or violates an online rating and review site’s terms of service, the other option may be not to respond at all.
Plan on Responding?
If you do respond, you should already have a plan in place, as we discussed a while back, in a blog entitled 5 Mistakes That Can Seriously Damage Your Reputation – and What You Can Do to Avoid Them: “Timely, effective response depends on your staff knowing who is assigned to monitor reviews, what pitfalls to look for, who will respond and how the response will be tailored.
A thorough, well-rounded policy with response templates offers confidence that every review will receive a prompt and appropriate answer.” If you don’t have a detailed plan, today is the day to start assembling one.
Know Rating and Review Platforms’ Rules on “Questionable” Reviews
Online reviews are overwhelmingly genuine and should be treated professionally. But what if a review smells a little shady?
Chances are someone on your staff will be able to recall the interaction that prompted a negative review. So, make sure the unsatisfied reviewer is really talking about your practice, and contact the reviewer if it’s there by mistake.
Before you ever confront a fake evaluation, you should understand how the review sites define ‘fake’ and how you can challenge one. By knowing the rules of third party websites when it comes to user contributed content, you might be able to get a fake review removed.
Many review sites will let you flag questionable reviews. If a review is blatantly made up, you can flag the response for review.
You can check the website where the review is posted for rules on how businesses should handle questionable reviews.
How Binary Fountain can Help
Our new eBook, The Healthcare Marketer’s Guide to Managing Review Platforms states Google’s policy for user-contributed content: “Your content should reflect your genuine experience at the location and should not be posted just to manipulate a place’s ratings. Do not post fake content, do not post the same content multiple times, and do not post content for the same place from multiple accounts.”
Here are a few tips from the eBook on spotting a fake review:
- It offers a phone number or web address and a call to action unrelated to your business
- It suggests an alternative product or service
- The reviewer uses avatars with vague images or stock photos (a clue the account was created for dishonest purposes)
- The review includes incorrect grammar or multiple spelling errors
All these are grounds for Google to remove a review. Looking for more advice on managing online review platforms – and their rules on how to handle questionable reviews? Get our new ebook today.
About the Author
Kenneth Brooks serves as Binary Fountain’s senior director of marketing. He brings more than 15 years of high-tech marketing experience, including 7 years in healthcare technology, to the company. In his role, he manages brand awareness and demand generation programs.