Using customer reviews is one of the most high-impact marketing tools you can use. If you’re not collecting (or receiving) any, then customer reviews may be the missing link to your business’ growth.
So why is it that some businesses aren’t fully using customer reviews? Why don’t some businesses take an active part in collecting customer reviews?
It is possible that these businesses aren’t aware of the benefits of customer reviews. They have no idea how reviews act as a social signal, and how they can generate hype on products, or how reviews improve their organic SEO.
The good news is that increasing your customer reviews isn’t rocket science. It’s not that complicated, although you may really need to put some effort into it.
The question now is, what can you do to get customers to write reviews about your business? In addition, what actions can you take to make sure your customers are satisfied enough to leave you positive reviews?
1. Be on popular review sites
First and foremost, your business should be in spaces where consumers can read and leave reviews.
This step is important since you’re not only after collecting reviews — it’s imperative that consumers know about your business whichever site or platform they’re doing research.
Here are some of the review sites people frequently visit to research about a business or product:
As you know, Google is the biggest search engine in the world with over 63,000 searches per second on any given day. That roughly translates into 5.6 billion searches per day.
From that figure alone, you should get by now how important it is for you to claim your business using Google My Business. Doing so would help potential customers to find and read reviews once they search about your business (or a related keyword) on Google.
A Statista 2019 data shows that 26.3% of the world’s population is using Facebook with North America having the highest active usage rate of 72.4% of the overall population.
People use Facebook several times a day. It’s important that you create a Facebook page for your business (or claim your Facebook page) so that potential customers would be able to read reviews about your business.
As of June 30, 2019, Yelp Metrics showed that there are 77 million unique users that access Yelp using mobile and 62 million on desktop. Yelp, along with Facebook and Google, is one of the most trusted sources of customer reviews.
Depending on the nature of your business, you should also claim or create a business page on review sites specific for your industry like TripAdvisor and G2 Crowd. If you’re in the US, Mexico, and Canada, it’s also a good idea to register your business with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) to gain more credibility and trustworthiness.
What’s important is that you provide a space where loyal and satisfied customers can write reviews and for potential customers to read about your business.
2. Motivate customers by offering incentives
Offering incentives is an effective way to motivate a customer to do a certain action. Traditionally, incentives are used to encourage repeat sales and referrals.
You can think of it this way: you’re offering a reward to customers who spend time writing a review for your business. Time is valuable. Giving incentives to willing customers shows how much you care for them which increases customer loyalty in response.
Here are suggestions for incentives you can offer:
- Gift cards
- Discount/coupon codes
- Event tickets
- Entry to contest for bigger rewards
If you would like to make this process easier, you can use applications like Lootly which helps you build good customer relationships by rewarding them for interacting with your store — like leaving a review.
Note: When incentivizing the process of getting reviews, make sure to make it explicit and clear. Inform potential reviewers that you’re rewarding reviews whether they’re positive or negative.
3. Simply ask customers for reviews
The simplest way to encourage customers to leave reviews is to simply ask them. Your happy and loyal customers are more than happy to help you out and leave positive reviews.
Of course, you can expect customers with negative experiences to leave reviews as well. In fact, customers who experienced strong emotions (either positive or negative) have a higher chance of leaving a review even without being asked.
Here are some of the places you can ask customers for reviews:
- Sales page
- Social media posts
- Physical materials (receipts, invoices, brochures, etc.)
The key is to include a call-to-action. Simply invite them to leave a review, no matter how they felt about the product or service.
For example, here’s how Lazada asks a buying customer to spend 5 minutes reviewing the item that was just purchased:
As you can see, it’s pretty simple and direct to the point.
4. Teach your customers the importance of reviews (and how to leave one)
Although most of the consumers read online reviews before purchasing, research shows that only 10% actually always/almost always leaves customer reviews. The gap of people reading the reviews versus the people writing them is huge.
Some companies are hesitant in educating their customers about the set of activities/processes of business due to a misguided belief that this leads to customers becoming less loyal. However, research conducted by Andreas Eisingerich and Simon Bell revealed the opposite to be true — educating customers leads to a strengthened trust in the organization or business.
So what can you do? For starters, you can build a page in your site that educates your customers on why reviews are important. Then, lay it down to them on how to leave or post feedback.
A good example of this would be this page from eBay:
You don’t have to write a super long article about why reviews are important. As eBay did, just write a short explanation about reviews and how to leave a review.
5. Ask for reviews at the right time
Although it’s true that you can simply ask customers for reviews, it’s also better if you do it at the right time. Doing so increases the chance of your request being granted.
Now, to be precise, there are two primary factors you have to look at — time and customer journey.
First, the time you’re asking for a review matters, especially when using email. If you send an email requesting a review on a busy day, there’s less chance you’re customer will be able to comply.
Your customer might be able to read your message. However, because he’s not able to do as you requested right away (assuming he’s willing), his only choice is to do it during his free time. The problem is, he may or may not be able to remember it.
So when is the best time to ask for reviews? According to CoSchedule’s data, the best days to ask a review if you’re using email would be Tuesday to Wednesday during the early morning (6 am), before lunch (10 am), and before sleeping time (8-12 pm).
Another factor you have to consider is the customer journey. If you send a request for feedback at the wrong moment (the customer was displeased or unsatisfied), you could end up with a negative review.
Of course, there’s no sure way to tell when the right moment is to ask. However, there are signs or milestones on a customer’s journey where asking a review seems right and would probably result in a positive outcome.
Some of these moments include:
- Repurchasing or reordering your product or service
- After they show their satisfaction in person, email, or social media
- After they experience a win using your product or service
- If they refer your business to others
- If they’re spending a great deal of time on your website or store
- After they mentioned you on social media
Naturally, you will have to consider the industry of your business. For some, asking a review right away works better than delaying it. It wouldn’t work to ask for a review of a customer’s experience with Uber (a transportation network company) a month after.
6. Share customer reviews on social media and on your website
Sharing customer reviews on social media and on your website has lots of benefits. Aside from helping potential customers get to know what other customers are saying about your business, it also motivates others to review your product or service.
Sharing how your customers feel about your business is a nice way to thank them. Adding their name and picture would certainly increase the level of credibility of the review. When sharing one, try to add the link of the source of the review so others may know where to go if they want to leave a review as well.
Here’s how Treehouse, an online technology school, shares a review about their business on Facebook:
Sharing customer reviews on your website is also great for SEO and rankings. Make sure you’re optimizing your website to provide fast and easy ways for inspired customers to write their own reviews.
Here’s how The Social Collective, a digital monitoring and management solution, display client reviews about their business:
It’s only natural that you share reviews about your business. It’s one of the most effective ways to advertise your business while gaining credibility and social proof.
Note: If you’re planning to use clients’ reviews on advertisements, make sure to ask them if it’s alright with them. Failing to do so might lead to unfavorable situations.
7. Give a positive review to your customers
Humans are an interdependent species. The concept of “give and take” is embedded in every fiber of our being. That means, giving out positive reviews to clients could motivate them to do the same.
Understandably, it’s not possible for every business. But if there’s a way you can review a customer profile, leave them a positive review. Of course, you don’t have to do that if you think they’re bad customers. But leaving a positive one might encourage them to leave you a positive review in the future.
If there’s no way you can leave them a review, you can try LinkedIn. If your customers are professional, it’s possible that they have accounts on the platform. Leave them a recommendation or endorsement. That might prompt them to reciprocate on your business and leave a positive review.
For example, the recommendations the owner of the profile has given has earned him positive recommendations from the same people in return:
Once you give positive reviews to others, there’s a higher chance that those people will also give you positive reviews.
8. Respond to existing reviews — especially negative ones
It’s important that you engage with customer reviews whether they’re positive or not. Often times, companies choose to ignore negative reviews. Or worse, delete them. What you may not know is that negative reviews can be a win for your business.
If you don’t respond to them, you might lose half of your potential customers. A survey conducted by ReviewTrackers revealed that 53% of customers expect companies to address negative reviews within a week.
But you have to be careful in responding to negative reviews. Here are a few suggestions on how you should respond to such reviews:
- Apologize and sympathize
- Take responsibility
- Propose a solution
- Don’t be defensive
- Thank them
- Take the issue offline
- Ask for another chance
Notice how HubSpot responded to a negative review:
Your customers aren’t heartless. If you’re able to settle things right, you can always ask the customer to leave another review. A study from Harvard Business Review revealed that companies and businesses that respond well to negative reviews resulted in better ratings.
9. Use review tools to automate and manage reviews
Using customer review tools like TrustSpot is an effective way to increase your customer reviews. Most tools have a review request feature which increases your chance of getting a response from customers.
For example, TrustSpot has a review request feature (available for collecting both company and product reviews) which sends intelligent emails:
Naturally, you’ll be able to display the reviews throughout your website and share them on social media. Using a review management tool is a hassle-free way to increase your customer reviews. Let the tools do the heavy lifting.
Provide a positive experience
Most importantly, provide your customers with a positive experience. This is the most sure-fire way of getting positive reviews from your customers.
Whatever method or solution you use to collect reviews, your customers would only respond according to how they feel about the service or product. After leaving a positive or negative review, it doesn’t end your relationship with them. So even during collecting reviews, make it a positive experience for them.