Why your business needs to stop removing reviews
1) People can tell your business is filtering the reviews.
68% of consumers trust reviews more when they see both good and bad scores (Econsultancy, 2012). Customers are review savvy and can spot when things look too good to be true. In fact, a whopping 95% of consumers suspect censorship or faked reviews when they don’t see any negative scores at all (Reevoo, 2015).
2) It looks fishy...like your business has something to hide.
30% of consumers assume online reviews are fake if there are no negative reviews mixed in the bunch (Webrepublic). Only 8% of consumers expect a business to have a five-star rating before they will consider using them (Brightlocal, 2016). If there are only five-star reviews on a review site, customers wonder if perhaps your business is filtering your reviews and might assume it’s because you have something to hide.
3) Reviews that are removed will only anger customers trying to share their experience.
If your business doesn’t allow or encourage reviews (this includes negative ones!), your customers who have something to say, good or bad, will find it odd that they can’t leave an honest review for your business. Customers can still leave reviews for unverified listings and profiles, so, just because your business can’t see the bad reviews, it doesn’t mean they don’t exist.
4) It looks like your business doesn’t value customers enough to win them back.
If your business doesn’t allow for feedback, it appears to customers that you don’t really care about them or value their experiences. If customers can’t expect good service, don’t expect them to want to visit your business. Customers like to see businesses that are open to feedback, listen to customers, and try to win those who may not have had a stellar experience back.
5) It doesn’t give your business an opportunity to win back trust that may have been lost.
If a review isn’t published, it can be infuriating to customers! If your business did, in fact, fail the customer, it gives you a chance to understand their struggle and to win them back. Since your business is responding to the reviewer publicly, you have the opportunity to turn said disgruntled customer back into a believer, as well as show other customers that you care about their satisfaction. Customers like that. Who wouldn't?
6) Businesses are missing out on valuable feedback to improve.
While customers can, at times, admittedly be unrealistic with their expectations from a business, some are kind enough and care enough about your success to provide feedback on possible oversights. Oversights happen to the best of us and there is always room for improvement.
Situations when it is okay to gate reviews
Here are the situations when it is acceptable for your business to filter out which reviews are published:
1) When the review contains graphic material or inappropriate language.
If the review is inappropriate and/or contains explicit language/graphic material, there's nothing wrong with removing it. After all, you don't want to offend anyone and you do want to remain family-friendly. Fortunately, many review sites are very good about keeping an eye our for crude language/content, but if they happen to miss it, you can flag it as inappropriate.
2) When reviews are irrelevant to your business.
If a review doesn’t provide any mention of your business, you feel it's out of context, or it doesn't even refer to your products or services, it's okay to suppress that review. Sometimes customers leave reviews instead of doing what they really want to do - ask a question. If you see a review that really won't go to help a future customer or just doesn't make any sense, there's no reason for it to be there.
3) When reviews are spammy or someone is plugging another business.
The dreaded spam. One indicator of obvious spam, is if a person starts talking about their business, products and services instead of yours. Mistakes do happen though and not all misguided reviews are intentional spam. In the example below, the review was intended for a direct competitor and was a case of mistaken identity.
4) When the review is a fake or planted by a competitor (and your business knows it is).
In the case of review fraud, it is completely acceptable to remove said review from site. In the example below, a person who had never even visited the establishment left a very harsh and potentially harmful review after reading other negative reviews.
Unfortunately, reviews have been known to be used as blackmail in the past. It's not ethical, but this sort of unscrupulous behavior does occur. What's more unsettling is that this type of behavior is on the rise. Now, more than ever, is the time to be practicing review management and using reputation management software. If you want help determining if a review is fake or not, try the free Review Skeptic tool backed by research from Cornell University.
Again, Please Don’t Review-Stuff
The review below is an example of a business owner promoting his own business. There’s a lot of specific detail that even the most committed reviewer wouldn’t delve into. On top of that, the review is so long many people will probably just skim over.
How can your business practice white-hat review management?
Provide exceptional customer experiences.
Ask your customer to leave a review (in-store signs, surveys, etc.).
Read and analyze the review. Does it meet the criterion to remove? - If yes, remove and you are done managing the review. - If no, the review stays published.
Respond to the review. - If the review is positive, thank them for their feedback. - If the review is negative, try to take the conversation offline by asking for their contact information so that you can gain more insight into their situation and try to remedy it. If you have remedied the situation, try asking them to adjust their review.
White hat review management visual guide
Why it’s best to take the high road when it comes to review management.
At the end of the day, people can tell that your business is picking and choosing which reviews to publish if all of your reviews are too positive. From a consumer’s perspective, it is better to see a business with a mix of reviews, mostly positive but with some negatives as well. So long as a business is trying to remedy a negative situation by responding to the customer and following the proper review management protocols, it actually says more about the business than a business with all perfect five-star reviews.
Do you need help managing your reviews? If so, Two17 has you covered! Check out our review management service here.