It can be difficult to concretely decide if a review is fake or not, especially in cases where the fake reviewer understands that practices may be looking out for fake review-indicators. However, it’s our job to protect practices like yours from the impact of fake or negative reviews, so we have noticed a few major red flags that consistently come up with fake accounts.
Pay Attention To The Red Flags:
When looking into a fake patient review, you’ll want to pay attention to these 11 major warning signs:
The reviewer is not a patient.
Checking whether or not the reviewer’s name patches a patient in your database should be one of your first steps. Not only does this allow you to understand whether or not it’s real feedback, but it could help you respond appropriately. Calling someone out for leaving a fake review is never a good idea, especially because people will sometimes leave a review about your practice accidentally.
Instead, you can explain that you were unable to find their information in your patient database but would love to discuss the matter further on the phone or in person. That way, regardless of the review being accidental or a fake patient review, future prospective patients can see your follow-up and know that review actually doesn’t apply.
The reviewer speaks in generalities.
Chances are a review that is extremely general but also negative, usually accompanied by a 1 or 2-star rating, it’s a fake patient review. Think about the last time you had a bad experience and had to speak to a manager. Did you say “I’m upset because I had a bad experience” or “That waitress dumped boiling water on my lap”?
The same goes for a patient negatively reviewing your practice online. Odds are that they’re going to way to specifically address why they didn’t find your service up to par.
The negative review is way too specific or long.
It may seem counterintuitive, but reviews that are too specific should also be reflagged right along with reviews that are too general. Why? Because these types of fake patient reviews often go to the extremes when explaining their bad experience to shock real patients when they read the review. A prospective patient that comes across a review like this may be more likely to ask themselves: “If it’s so long, so emotional, and so extreme… it must be real, right?”
In fact, check out the review below. Really, take the time to read it.
So, what was wrong with this review? According to a study conducted by Max Woolf in 2014, it turns out that the average length of a review on Amazon is 100-150 characters and we venture that this length is similar to the average of those on Google, Yelp, and others. So, not only is the review above extremely long, but it’s also way too specific and really dramatic. In combination, this dramatic trifecta is one giant red flag that points this being a fake patient review.
They have left many similar businesses negative reviews.
Let’s keep thinking about the review above, from John Brian Irfan. We know it’s too long, specific, and emotional – sure – but what other red flags can we find with this account?
One step that you’ll want to take is spending time to check out the review history from the account you suspect has left you a fake patient review. By taking a look at that suspicious account, you could glean additional insight into the type of person that’s behind the review. Do they have a lot of mixed positive and negative reviews for various kinds of businesses? And what timeline have all of those reviews been posted on?
More likely than finding a profile that seems legit, you’ll find someone like John Brian Irfan, who has strictly negative reviews that all read similarly. More importantly, all of these reviews are to similar businesses. Just take a look:
If you look closely, this account is full of negative reviews for doctors in the same area of New York. More suspiciously, this user has left negative reviews for two of the same doctor’s locations. This should be a red flag on its own because of the sheer unlikelihood of one patient visiting several doctors in the same area within the last four months.
The review is poorly worded or written.
An additional red flag that you may want to look out for is the way a fake patient review is written. In the example below, you can see that, much like the previous example, this review is long, specific, and dramatic but it is also written poorly in an almost nonsensical way. Now, the review below is a positive fake patient review, but the issue still remains. This is yet another red flag to add to your list.
The account has no photo.
The majority of the time, people leaving real reviews, on Google at least, will have a photo of themselves attached to their profile. Because Google reviews are linked to Gmail and Google Plus, it’s likely that a user would have uploaded a profile picture to one (and therefore all) of their accounts.
So, when you encounter a reviewer with no profile picture, it’s time to do some extra investigation.
The account has too few reviews.
If you have been left a negative review by an account with just one review (yours), it’s likely that this profile may be fake. By looking at this and other indicators, like whether or not they have a profile picture, you should be able to get a better idea of whether or not you’ve been hit with a fake patient review.
The account has a lot of negative reviews.
Has your practice received a negative review from an account that has 16 reviews attributed to their profile? Check them out! If you notice that the majority of them are bad (or aimed at a single industry), it’s likely that you’ve just received a fake patient review rather than one of constructive criticism.
They are aimed at one person
Oftentimes, fake patient reviews will be specifically aimed at bringing down the reputation of a single person. These reviews typically seem angry, include personal insults, and may contain curse words. In these cases, it’s important to check if the name associated with the review was seen in the office before you respond.
There is no record of a patient with that name visiting you.
One of the biggest steps you can take in determining whether or not you’re dealing with a fake patient review is checking you database for a patient with the same name. Oftentimes, people’s social media platforms (including those on Google) are linked to their full names.
By checking your database, you can ascertain whether or not this is someone who actually has visited you and is disgruntled, or if they fall into one of the fake reviewer archetypes we detailed earlier in this guide.
Now, this may seem like an obvious point to make – but some fake patient reviews are just blatantly fake. These reviews may be filled with curse words aimed specifically at the doctor or make bogus claims without any evidence. Just check out the review below to see what we mean.
Just like seeing someone that’s too good to be true, sometimes these horror-story reviews that make extreme claims are too bad to be true. These reviews are meant to have the shock-value it would take to dissuade an interested patient from making an appointment with this doctor. After all, a doctor who “pays people in Craigslist to fake their reviews” and has “zero business ethics” shouldn’t be trusted, right? If this practice doesn’t respond appropriately to handle the situation, it’s possible that potential patients may overlook them. Taking other red flags into account, it’s safe to say that the review above firmly falls into the “fake patient review” category.