5-Star Reviews, 5-Star Fraud. Are You Ready to Pay the Price?

5-Star Reviews, 5-Star Fraud. Are You Ready to Pay the Price?

Businesses face a litany of new defenses, processes and technologies, as review companies move to protect their platforms from manipulation. Help fight fraud. It's not hard to find out where to report it: Google allows businesses to flag content that might be in violation of its terms of service. Use flagging tools as they were intended; over-reporting/flagging negative reviews to manipulate your way into a better rating is a surefire way to lose credibility ... and revenue. Businesses should not avoid responding to negative reviews. A Harvard Business Review study found that when businesses respond to customer reviews -- even negative ones -- their ratings subsequently increased. Use an open platform. Closed platforms let businesses selectively invite only their best customers, while some even allow businesses to unpublish reviews they don’t like. As tough as [the] home-buying process can be, customer feedback is one of the strongest assets for us to improve and stay competitive.” Online reviews have come a long way since the dawn of the internet. Each review is a chance for businesses to learn and improve.

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Go about reviews the right way and you’ll earn respect and trust in the process. Cheat and you risk everything you’ve built.

5-Star Reviews, 5-Star Fraud. Are You Ready to Pay the Price?

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

When early technologists first created the framework for the internet, few understood how vital it would be to build trust and stand out in an expansive sea of hundreds of thousands of businesses, all moving in unison to establish an online presence. Today’s entrepreneurs, in contrast, understand this problem so well that they’ve inadvertently set off an arms race for those coveted five-star reviews.

At this stage, however, the arms race is pretty much over. “We deal with a lot of skepticism, asking people to purchase our luxury product sight unseen,” Leon Rbibo, president of jewelry businesses The Pearl Source and Laguna Pearl, pointed out to me via email. “We collect reviews not for the stars — though they certainly don’t hurt — but to show the world we conduct business out in the open, [that] we’re credible.”

Moving forward, how businesses obtain their stars is going to be more important than how many stars they have. Businesses face a litany of new defenses, processes and technologies, as review companies move to protect their platforms from manipulation. In short, companies that aim to manipulate or “game” the system to get fake five-star reviews face new defenses instituted by online review platforms.

These defenses include such technology as machine learning algorithms, artificial intelligence and compliance processes.

Still tempted? Consumers will happily expose bad actors, and any business caught might never recover.

The new state of online reviews, then, is that a line has been drawn in the sand. Here’s how you can be sure you’re on the right side of that line.

Help fight fraud.

Review platforms — like mine — are investing in AI and machine-learning to detect fake reviews, but no platform is perfect. It’s a constant challenge to snuff out fraud and manipulation. But here’s the thing: You should join the fight. If you see something suspicious, report it.

It’s not hard to find out where to report it: Google allows businesses to flag…

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