This article was updated on November 18, 2020
There’s no question that customer feedback is powerful. While all comments about your local business can be insightful, high-quality online reviews with good recommendations from community members can be one of the best things for your business. Many satisfied customers never think to share their experiences, so learning how to ask for reviews is crucial to cultivating and maintaining a good online presence.
Positive reviews can be the thing that helps differentiate your services from the next local business. Positive reviews also help build a positive reputation because they are endorsements from your customers, and can help you attract new customers who are in need of your product or services. According to Nielsen, 83% of consumers believe recommendations from friends and family over all forms of advertising. For your business, this means that online reviews have the potential to influence your community’s perceptions of your business more than any advertising.
So, how can businesses like yours ask your most loyal clients to leave positive reviews or recommendations? Whether you’re looking for a review on popular websites your customers frequent, there are polite, courteous, and effective ways to solicit glowing reviews.
Let’s dive in.
Customer review basics: A checklist for getting started
First, it’s time to do some exploring. Where are customers leaving online reviews for your business (or for your competitors)?
Step 1: Check out popular sites your customers visit to find
reviews for your business.
For starters, search for your Business Page on Nextdoor, as well as other review sites like Google or Yelp, that your customers frequent to discover your business.
- Is your business listed? If not, it’s time to start advertising your local business in places like these—as having no online presence may prevent you from attracting potential customers.
- Does your business listing have reviews? If not, that can raise questions for people comparing your business to one that has tons of in-depth reviews and photos. To start generating recommendations for your company, skip ahead to the next section of this article: Strategies for asking for recommendations.
- If your business has listings and some reviews. Before asking other customers for additional reviews:
- Read what people are saying. This may uncover areas for improvement – changes you can implement before asking anyone else to rate or review your company online.
- Respond by thanking people for sharing their experiences and addressing any negative reviews. Customers will appreciate that your company is listening and adding this personal touch.
Strategies to ask for recommendations
Angry or upset customers are more likely to write negative reviews than happy customers. About 45 percent of those with bad customer experiences are likely to share on social media compared with 38 percent who had positive experiences, reports Adweek.
Step 2: To tip the scales in your favor, encourage customers with positive experiences to leave reviews.
Here are some tips:
- Encourage positive reviews, but don’t be pushy or awkward. No customer wants to feel forced to endorse your brand (in fact, being overly pushy can lead to bad reviews). Instead, you should ask kindly and naturally, without making the customer feel that leaving a review is expected of them. Lastly, be sure to show appreciation to all customers, whether they leave a review or not.
- Feel free to provide incentives. But it doesn’t have to be monetary. Research published in Harvard Business Review indicates that people are motivated to share reviews when they know their feedback will help others. Something along the lines of “Help us offer the best service for each and every guest by leaving us a review online!” can convey this message.
- Ask at the right time. Clients may rave about you in person, providing a natural moment for you or your employees to ask, “Do you mind sharing your feedback online on ‘x’ site?”
Passively ask for reviews all the time. The ask doesn’t have to be said out loud. Placing signage in your brick-and-mortar location asking for reviews (or for customers to follow you on social media). Or, offer a simple incentive, like “Follow us on Instagram” or “Recommend us on Nextdoor” in exchange for 10-15 percent off their first purchase, or for a small freebie, like branded swag. Remember, customers are more inclined to be descriptive and thorough in their reviews if they leave them within a day or so of their experience, so look at review incentives as a way of eliciting useful and complete feedback.
Ways to ask for positive reviews
Step 3: Make the ask
Here are some great ways:
- In person: As mentioned above, staff and owners can ask satisfied customers to do the favor when the moment is right, ideally after completing a successful (and happy) transaction.
- On your website: Nearly half of all small businesses don’t have a website. About one third say they use a company website to communicate with existing and future customers, according to a CNBC/Survey Monkey Small Business Survey. If your business doesn’t have a website, this is a missed opportunity to create your own online presence.
- Review sites: Highlight client testimonials and popular reviews, and ask customers to share their experiences on sites like Facebook and Google. Responding to your Google reviews improves your local SEO.
- Via Nextdoor Recommendation: Ask your customers to recommend your business on Nextdoor to make you more discoverable in your local neighborhood. Businesses with at least one recommendation will show up in the “Businesses” section, where Nextdoor members search for local products and services.
- Via social media: Once you start getting positive customer feedback, you can showcase your favorite review on social media. This demonstrates the social proof of your company. Ask other followers to do the same. Consider turning it into a contest, such as offering a free product sample to one lucky customer who leaves a review in the next week.
- Via email marketing/text message marketing: If you as an individual are regularly emailing or texting potential and current clients, you can leave links to your company’s online reviews in your email signature or ask for a review via text.
Consider adding a post-purchase/post-transaction follow-up email as part of your automated email nurture efforts with a review request. Send a quick thank you message and ask customers to share their positive experience online. The best marketing strategy is when you can get customers to organically spread the word and recommend your business.
Review generation is no easy feat-- without your prompting, a happy customer has no incentive to leave a positive review for prospective customers to see. Meanwhile, an unhappy customer might leave a bad review, scaring off a potential customer.
Strong customer service and attention to detail can ensure success in all parts of the review process, and it's essential that as a business owner you know how to ask customers for reviews. So, follow the tips we just laid out in our guide and you'll be sure to have a better grasp of how to manage negative and positive feedback on online review sites!
Claim your free Business Page to get started on Nextdoor. For resources on how to use Nextdoor to stay connected with your local customers, pertinent news affecting businesses, and more, follow us at @nextdoorbusiness on Facebook.