It always brings a thrill when a Fire or Security customer leaves a glowing testimonial on your Google My Business Maplisting.
But these can be few and far between – no matter how fabulous your service. Sadly, it’s human nature but unhappy customers are much more keen to vent when they have had a bad experience.
And there is a growing trend for problem reviews. Not happy customers singing your praises and not customers who feel your service has not been your best. But something else entirely.
The one type of Fire and Security Google map listing review that we dread is the fake review.
What is a fake Google review?
These can happen for several reasons:
- Some joker has decided that it is great fun to leave an offensive or sexually explicit comment on your map listing as a review. Usually there is no reference to fire safety or security products. And it is unlikely that they were ever a customer.
- Someone has got the wrong business. They’re leaving a review on your Fire & Security company because you share a similar name to a different business. It might not even be another Fire and Security company. The review may not even talk about alarms, installations or an engineer not turning up at an agreed time.
- A competitor has persuaded/paid some third parties to leave a 1 start review on your Google map listing. It’s hard not to take these personally. And it can feel as if someone has insulted one of your children. Trouble is, these don’t usually come on their own. They can be followed by another two or three. And you don’t recognise any of the names as actual customers of yours.
So what can you do if you get a 1* review that you believe is fake because you don’t recognise the name of the customer?
Investigate and reply to your review
You should always reply to your reviews – good or bad. Here are some helpful tips from Google for doing that.
If you cannot locate the name of a bad reviewer in your records, you should definitely respond and politely request more information about what when you installed their system or whatever it is they are complaining about.
Whilst you are waiting, I would also highly recommend clicking on the name of the reviewer to look at their previous history of reviews. You may find this person has left bad reviews for other Fire and Security installers in your area.
Flag and report a policy violation
If you decide you want to complain to Google, the simplest way is to hover over the review, until you see a little flag. Click the flag and you will be given some options to report what is wrong with this review? You have just five options:
Offensive or sexually explicit
This review is not relevant to this place
Conflict of interest
Google’s advice on flagging and reporting says that you cannot flag a review just because you disagree with it or don’t like it.
Naturally, for a fake review, your finger will be drawn to the option about conflicts of interest… but that might not be the right category at all. You need to really consider what it is that you are complaining about… and the burden of proof lies firmly with you. Again, Google has advice on the subject of conflicts of interest:
Maps user-contributed content is most valuable when it’s honest and unbiased. Examples of disallowed practices include, but aren’t limited to:
Reviewing your own business.
Posting content about a current or former employment experience.
Posting content about a competitor to manipulate their ratings.
If you’re sure, click Report and wait to hear back from Google. But don’t hold your breath – for either a reply OR a positive outcome.
Why Google can’t remove your fake reviews
If all you can complain about is that you have a series of 1* reviews in a very short space of time from ‘customers’ you don’t recognise who have only ever left that one review… this is not enough proof for Google to say categorically that there is a conflict of interest.
The most important point to remember is that the client name you have on your records may not match the Google account of the person leaving the review. Google is very reluctant to remove this type of bad review because… it could be genuine!
How to deal with a fake Google My Business review when you cannot remove it
As with any bad review, the only way to deal with it is using the LAER method… Listen, Acknowledge, Explore and Respond.
Thank them for their feedback.
Confirm that you take complaints seriously and want to investigate.
Ask for more details as you don’t recognise their name and want to respond.
And the best advice of all? Encourage as many of your happy clients as you can to leave you a good review on Maps. You need enough to push the bad one off the front page! But remember – don’t incentivise, because that would be against Google’s Terms of Service!
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