If you do find yourself the target of sustained uncompetitive behaviour – beyond just the odd suspiciously negative review – you need to do is to activate a solid review-management strategy, advises Wadsworth.
Last year, the British Standards Institute (BSI) launched the first international standards for online reviews, ISO 20488:2018, in partnership with the automated customer feedback solution Feefo.
The standards ask any organisation that publishes consumer reviews online, including third parties, to verify that they come from genuine customers. Among its other recommendations are that those responsible for administrating customer feedback keep a record of illicit reviews, and any relevant documents related to them, for at least one year from the date they’re removed.
A BSI spokesperson says: “Many consumers use online reviews to inform their purchasing decisions. They trust what they read online. Such guidelines are designed to help companies build and retain that trust and to empower consumers, by ensuring the quality, integrity, accuracy and transparency of reviews.”
Getting online marketplaces to remove fake reviews in the first place can be tricky, though, because proving they’re bogus isn’t always straightforward, says Wadsworth.
There are some tell-tale signs. For example, there might be a spike in negative reviews and feedback left in the space of a few days or a week. These reviews may also be short, use simple language, have poor syntax and grammar, and may even repeat words or phrases featured in other, similarly negative reviews.
When it comes to addressing the fakes, including bogus safety claims, Wadsworth advises making a considered public response on social media. He recommends subtly informing your followers of the situation, without pointing the finger and stating the obvious.